Memories of a Catholic girlhood

by Mary McCarthy

Hardcover, 1957




New York : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, c1957.


Blending memories and family myths, Mary McCarthy takes us back to the twenties, when she was orphaned in a world of relations as colourful, potent and mysterious as the Catholic religion. There were her grandmothers- one was a blood-curdling Catholic who combined piousness and pugnacity; the other was Jewish and wore a veil to hide the disastrous effects of a face-lift. There was wicked Uncle Myers who beat her for the good of her soul and Aunt Margaret who laced her orange juice with castor oil and taped her lips at night to prevent unhealthy 'mouth-breathing'. 'Many a time in the course of doing these memoirs, ' Mary McCarthy says, 'I have wished that I were writing fiction. ' But these were the people, along with the ladies of the Sacred Heart convent school, who helped to inspire her devastating sense of the sublime and ridiculous and her witty, novelist's imagination.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member paulpekin
Haven't read this for a while, so I'm not going to summarize, just give an impression. The author lost her parents in the 1918 flu epidemic. What happens after their deaths is the essence of these stories, each of which comes with an introduction by the author telling us what is made up, what is possibly remembered incorrectly, and what almost certainly must be true. With that out of the way, the reader can sit back and enjoy. I recall these stories as being both funny and heartbreaking, and some of best writing of the period.… (more)
LibraryThing member Schmerguls
826 Memories of a Catholic Girlhood, by Mary McCarthy (read 19 Oct 1965) I disapproved of this book, since I disapprove of people losing their Catholic Faith. Wikipedia has an article on the book:
LibraryThing member JenLynnKnox
McCarthy combined long, sensual sentences with her strong, journalistic voice in this memoir.
LibraryThing member cindywho
I got suckered into reading another memoir, this time of a distant relative. It's a set of pieces that McCarthy had published mostly in the New Yorker with commentary in between about what was remembered and what was made up. Sometimes it was a slog, but most times a sad and funny glimpse into the life of a young woman between the wars.… (more)
LibraryThing member thesmellofbooks
An excellent collection of memoirs, though I would not want to have a relative take her razor-sharp pen thus to my character and ways. That said, the writing is not remorseless and cruel, but thoughtful and insightful, and in the retrospective notes McCarthy is more forgiving than many would be. The first two pieces are painful to read, as they depict the bleak time after her parents' deaths when she lived with relatives who were less comprehending and compassionate than we would hope orphaned children would be blessed with. I enjoyed the book very much all told and her reflections on her Catholic upbringing were illumiinating.… (more)



Page: 0.2212 seconds