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Kate Horsley (1) (1952–)

Author of Confessions of a Pagan Nun: A Novel

For other authors named Kate Horsley, see the disambiguation page.

10 Works 852 Members 28 Reviews

Works by Kate Horsley


Common Knowledge

Legal name
Parker, Kate
Country (for map)
Richmond, Virgina, USA
Places of residence
Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA



I bought this and read it to explore the clash of native worldview with Christianity in early mediaeval Ireland. The story was interesting and the writing was moving at times. It would have earned a higher rating if 1) it's central framing device wasn't that a pagan woman's writings somehow survived mediaeval Christianity into modern times in order to be translated by Horsely (so very unlikely that it borders on fantasy), and 2) if it didn't include a brief reference to the mythological chastity belt. Also, I didn't understand the point of the footnotes and glossary - if it's supposedly translated, then it should all be translated.… (more)
bibliothecarivs | 20 other reviews | Apr 23, 2024 |
This quiet, tragic tale, written by the druid-turned-nun Gwynneve, invites the reader to imagine the rapidly changing world of the sixth century, when Celtic paganism was giving way to Christianity. Gwynneve cannot figure out why the Christians hold hunger and suffering as virtues -- when she herself, and those in her village, suffered almost daily from hunger and the incursions of enemy chieftains. And why would the Christians profess to hate the pleasures of the body, but then offer this hated, denied thing as a sacrifice?

Gwynneth remembers the time before Christians, and although she professes to want to know the Christian path, it is only a matter of time before her questions, and her defiance, and her respect for the sacred pagan ways lead her, and the man she loves, to tragedy.

A quiet, sacred, contemplative, lonely book.
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FinallyJones | 20 other reviews | Nov 17, 2021 |
A 6th-century Irish nun ponders her past and present. I enjoy the way the author presents a good picture of a changing society as Christianity clashes with traditional pagan beliefs in Ireland. I also like the Irish terms that are interspersed through the novel, giving a feeling of authenticity. I even marked a few things in the book that stuck with me, and I rarely do that in books.
hobbitprincess | 20 other reviews | Jul 13, 2020 |
Author Kate Horsley dresses up her novel as a codex found on an archeological dig in Ireland. It purports to be a first-person narrative of a woman trained as a druid in early 6th Century Ireland; it even includes a Translator’s Note explicating the scholarly treatment of the text. Horsley establishes this as a way of lending a present-day flavor to a long-ago text. It works really well, and at the same time the story manages to be a compelling text with human suffering, thwarted romance, power-mad clerics, and a deft treatment of how some true stories evolve into legends, embellished with magic.

Gwynneve, our wise and realistic narrator, tells her first-person story of passion, growth, and loss. This serves as a cross-section of the wrenching Irish conversion from the ancient Druidic faith to Christianity. In fact, the story by design straddles the exact period where the Christian faith takes strong root in the land, and succeeds in eradicating all traces of the old ways. But not in our Gwynneve!

This woman trains the full nine years required to become a druid, travels that path, and gains some renown. Her passion, which she discovers quite young, is for reading and writing; she burns to know what the long dead philosophers and seers and poets and clerics said and thought. This leads her to Giannon, a tall and rather unfeeling druid, from whom she finds she desires affection and partnership. He does not provide these in any gratifying amount, but he does teach her the druidic disciplines. Through a series of adventures and misadventures Gwynneve is admitted into a convent devoted to St. Brigit.

At this convent, Druid Gwynneve pursues her love of writing as a scribe, and sets the current manuscript to parchment. Before very long she runs afoul of the new Christian male hierarchy, is imprisoned and martyred. She thus personifies the dying of the old, nature-based beliefs prevalent in Ireland - she couches this often harsh transition in very human terms. In addition, there is a fine and lovely lilt to the writing, as befits something composed in English by an Irish wielder of words.

Straightforward, feeling, well-paced and lovely, there is much here to use your time well. It imagines its time and place thoroughly, much to the delight of the modern reader.
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LukeS | 20 other reviews | Apr 17, 2020 |



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