Monday, September 15, 2014

American Saint: The Life Of Elizabeth Seton


Elizabeth Seton was born to a prominent family in New York in 1774. She moved in the finest circles, and was acquainted with some of the founding fathers. She sailed to Italy with her husband Will looking for a cure for his tuberculosis. Elizabeth and her family were placed in a damp dungeon to quarantine them, as authorities in Italy feared the ship from New York might be carrying yellow fever. Will eventually died, and Elizabeth returned to America and joined the Catholic church. Catholicism was illegal in the United States at that time, and she received constant threats to herself and her property. She later began a religious order in the United States, and resisted male control over it.

I won a copy of this book in the Goodreads First Reads Program*. I was happy to win this book as I had never heard of Elizabeth Seton before, and had no idea that she was the first American born saint. I thought this was a good general overview of her life. It also gave me a basic idea of the different issues catholics faced in early American history. I would be interested in reading a book that delved deeper into her life and the issues she faced. I do think Barthel did a good job conveying the struggle she faced trying to decide if she should convert to Catholicism despite what her family and friends would think of her decision.

The first portion of the book seemed a little disjointed and vague. There were leaps from topic to topic, and quite a few names being introduced in order to try to illustrate where Elizabeth came from, and where she ended up. The time frame also went back and forth a lot as well. I thought there were too many threads being presented at once which made it difficult to follow at some points. The book was easier to follow as it went on and focused more on Elizabeth.

If you are a fan of early American history or women's history, I recommend reading this book.

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not alter my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book sooner than I would have gotten to read it, or a book I would not have heard about otherwise.

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