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The Scent of God by Beryl Singleton Bissell

In this most eloquent memoir, Bissell debuts a fine literary talent that will not be forgotten and should not be missed. It is with beauty and grace that we are taken on the journey of a young girl who longs to become a nun and, more importantly, desires a real relationship with God through honest faith.

In artful parallel to the canonical hours of the Catholic Church, Beryl’s story of striving to be faithful to God takes us to Holy Child School, the Monastery of St. Clare, the beaches of Puerto Rico and the beauty of Italy. She struggles through illness, falls in love, questions her faith and seeks God’s will everywhere from her cell at St. Clare to the parish of San Jorge to the Spanish Steps in Rome.

This memoir is not just an amazing story, but one that is told with clarity and humor. At times, Bissell references the likes of St. Teresa of Avila and St. Therese of Lisieux but also employs the comic relief of works like The Sensuous Woman by “J”. Somehow she manages to be simultaneously delightful and incredibly intense. Bissell’s command of the language is worth noting whether she is describing the scenery:

“Positano was all narrow streets and steep alleyways. Large pots of bright geraniums and trailing aspidistra lined stairways leading to pink- and cream-colored houses, and the cobbled streets glowed with a softly burnished salmon-tinted patina.”

or detailing a delicious meal:

“I put my teeth around [another quenepa] with the stem still attached and shivered as the thin shell split with a crisp pop. This time the fruit stayed inside. It sat like a transparent egg yolk inside a tiny olive shell. I squished the pod and the fruit leaped again into my mouth.”

Her well-crafted memoir intimately portrays the trials – and triumphs – of finding God, true love and yourself in things great and small.

Don’t pass up this moving story that is sure to fill its readers with faith, hope and love.

The Scent of God: A Memoir by Beryl Singleton Bissell
304 pp
Published by: Counterpoint
ISBN 13: 978-1582433615

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