The Calling By Fleur Beale, Penguin Random House, $19.99 .. .. .. .. .. ..
.. I didn't expect to like this book. It's about a young girl in 19th century New Zealand who longs to be a nun, against the wishes of her Methodist father who wants her to marry. It's also about the power of religion over one young and impressionable person, and how she resolves what to do with her life. What raises it above just another religiously inspired book is the extraordinary writing of Fleur Beale, author of more than 40 books, mostly for children and young adults. Beale was asked to write about Mother Mary Joseph Aubert by the Sisters of the Home of Compassion in Wellington. Aubert arrived in New Zealand in 1960 and set up several hospitals and a home for orphans, as well as the Whanganui settlement of Jerusalem. Beale captures the constraints of the times, especially on a teenage girl in a young New Zealand rural area who is left to run the household after her mother dies. Molly is determined to follow what she considers her calling – to become a nun — and seeks out Mother Mary to help her make her decision. It's a really good read about a very different time. —