The Spiral Staircase by Karen Armstrong is a very well written autobiography. It is also a very spiritual journey through Armstrong’s life. It takes you from her early life and her reasons for joining the convent. Then through her troubling time as a nun, and her internal struggle about leaving her faith and her life as a nun. You then follow her life through acidemia and her struggle with her beliefs throughout her life.
The book raises a number of questions about religion and one’s belief in God. It also contains a great deal of information about religion. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in theology and religion.
In 1962, at age seventeen, Karen Armstrong entered a convent, eager to meet God. After seven brutally unhappy years as a nun, she left her order to pursue English literature at Oxford. But convent life had profoundly altered her, and coping with the outside world and her expiring faith proved to be excruciating. Her deep solitude and a terrifying illness–diagnosed only years later as epilepsy–marked her forever as an outsider. In her own mind she was a complete failure: as a nun, as an academic, and as a normal woman capable of intimacy. Her future seemed very much in question until she stumbled into comparative theology. What she found, in learning, thinking, and writing about other religions, was the ecstasy and transcendence she had never felt as a nun. Gripping, revelatory, and inspirational, The Spiral Staircase is an extraordinary account of an astonishing spiritual journey.
Copy of this book provided in return for my honest review, all opinions expressed are my own.