Dorothy Day (1897-1980) was a prominent Catholic, writer, social activist, and cofounder of a movement dedicated to serving the poorest of the poor. Her life has been revealed through her own writings as well as the work of historians, theologians, and academics. What has been missing until now is a more personal account from the point of view of someone who knew her well.
Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved by Beauty is a frank and reflective, heartfelt and humorous portrayal as written by her granddaughter, Kate Hennessy. Dorothy Day challenges ideas of plaster saints and of saintly women. Day is an unusual candidate for sainthood. Before her conversion, she lived what she called a "disorderly life", during which she had an abortion and then gave birth to a child out of wedlock. After her conversion she was both an obedient servant and a rigorous challenger of the church. She was a prolific writer whose books are still widely read. While tenderly rendered, this account will show her as driven to do good but dogmatic, loving but judgmental, in particular with regards to her only daughter, Tamar. She was also full of humor and laughter and could light up any room she entered.
"A rare glimpse into the life of one of America's most revered social activists.... Fascinating, well-told, candid, and tender." (Kirkus)
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Kate Hennessy's Magnificent Portrait
Intimate, authentic, challenging
Kate Hennessy's book is not only a portrait of her grandmother, Dorothy Day, but also a moving account of the life of her mother, Tamar. The richness of their relationship, the calling of the work of the Catholic Worker and the joys, struggles and beauties make this a book to savor. If this is the first book that you are to read on Dorothy Day, I suggest that you first pick up one of Dorothy's books like On Pilgrimage, Loaves and Fishes or The Long Loneliness. Read one of these first and then immediately read Kate's book. Although the Catholic Worker started 85+ years ago, the writing by and about Dorothy Day are even more powerful today.
The ending was stunningly beautiful. For Kate to return to multi-generational relationships between mothers and daughters was very rich. There were many scenes at the Catholic Worker either in NYC or at the farms that were challenging. I had lived in a Catholic Worker House for 3 years and it brought back many fond memories AND anxieties!
No, it is a book that needed to be listen to over a good length of time in order to reflect on her words and the life of Dorothy Day
It is too bad that Kate Hennessy was not asked to be the reader. I have listened to her present on her book tour and she would have been fabulous. There is something intimate and beautiful in this book that would have been enhanced by subtle inflections had Kate been the reader.
- D. Manzo