I wasn’t exactly thrilled to finally be taking this out of the library – I spent a semester studying Denis Diderot’s art criticism in France and unsurprisingly it wasn’t exactly the most stimulating class (although by far not the worst and to be fair I did choose it). I don’t really count any French authors (so far) amongst my favourites (I think L’Etranger is the best I’ve read so far – which is not to do it a disservice because I did enjoy that) and always feel like I should be reading them in French so avoid reading the translations – but then obviously the French versions aren’t quite as accessible and because I’m not exactly enamoured with them I don’t feel the urge to buy them… I think you can see where this is going.
The Nun tells the story of a young girl who, neglected by her parents throughout her childhood due to circumstances which are no fault of her own, is forced into a convent. Although I’ve read about young women being locked up in convents before (Henry James’ the American) I don’t really think about it very often and I did feel a great deal of pity for the narrator and her misfortune. Despite her attempts to escape and refusals to take her vows, she finds herself resigned to her fate.
I’m not sure how interesting I’ve made that sound because that is the basic pretence of the story – but actually it was surprisingly good. I suppose when you go in which such low expectations you always hope that they will be at least slightly exceeded – which this did (I’m not saying it’s the book of the year or anything). I wouldn’t recommend that you rush out and read it but it wasn’t half as tedious as anticipated – which isn’t exactly a glowing review but I feel is quite a compliment.