Confessions of a Pagan Nun
Authors: Kate Horsley

Review By: Tamara

    For fans of historical fiction, this short novel (188 pages plus a short glossary of 
Gaelic and Latin terms scattered throught the text) will be a delight.  The premise is of 
an ancient manuscript unearthed from a dig in Kildare, Ireland, supposedly written by an 
otherwise unknown nun of the Order of Saint Brigit about 500 A.D.  It is a private 
journal/memoir of a druidess turned Christian, used to fulfil her love of the written 
word and as a form of solace and release between transcribing of scriptures.  The book 
encompasses two stories that eventually intertwine...Gwynneve's memories of her mother 
and her pagan upbringing, including her apprenticeship and relationship with the druid 
Giannon...and current happenings at the Church of Saint Brigit, where she now lives and 
serves.  Through Gwyn's eyes we see an intimate portrait of Ireland's culture and how it 
gradually changes during her 40 years of life as Christianity slowly, but sometimes 
violently, replaces the old ways.  We also see her beliefs, and doubts...many of which 
are still relevant to women everywhere even today.   

As I said, this book is short, therefore a fairly quick read.  I actually finished it the 
second day into it.  Throughout, sticking with the preimse that this is the translation 
of an ancient Gaelic manuscript, there are both Gaelic and Latin terms and phrases 
peppering the text.  Footnotes as well as a short glossary at the end of the book provide 
translations for these terms.   

One particular section surprised and delighted me, even though it was not integral to the 
story.  An herb called common plantain was mentioned as being used by women to restore 
their strength after their menstrual cycle.  Obviously some sort of wild green, I can't 
help but wonder if this is the same plant that my grandfather used to make a poultice out 
of for clearing up poison ivy rashes.  It's fun to come across such references 
unexpectedly like that. 

All in all, I would recommend Confessions of a Pagan Nun.