The Guineveres

I’ve been escaping into fiction lately. Comics and novels are where it’s at when I’m not working, it’s escapism at its best. But the times call for a bit of that and self care is important. The Guinevers by Sarah Domet was on some end of 2016 book list and I decided to give it a go, not totally knowing what I was in for when I started reading.

It’s a lovely book about girls and growing up and faith and love. Four girls named Guinevere are all living in a girls school in a convent for various reasons, which you find out as you read. The timeline jumps between the present, each girl’s life before the convent, and some hints at the future. And intermixed with it all are chapters on various women who are saints in the Catholic Church and their lives.

These four girls, all so different, deal with the difficulties of their lives by supporting each other. As we learn more about their stories we understand more and more why they are desperate to find a family unit of some kind, even if it’s just the four of them, to support themselves. The time period of the novel is very murky, with a war going on, but the world outside the convent is a mystery. There are very few references and the story is consumed by life in this small space and the girls longing for more.

I really enjoyed this book, the aspects of faith spoke to me in a way I needed right now, and I could relate to many of the growing pains these girls had. I didn’t experience the same type of childhood, but I definitely relate to trying to figure out what is going on in life at the that age.

These stories found ways to tell themselves, even against our wishes. Stories are like that; they seek to unravel. (loc 755)

We were young still, didn’t know that some questions should never be asked, that we wouldn’t have wanted to know the answers anyway. (loc 3205)

You can’t rid yourself of that kind of pain completely, no matter how brave you are, or how good, no matter how far down you bury your memories. Memories are like that, like mustard seeds, tiny at first, but eventually the largest tree in all of the garden. (loc 3210)

Her first marriage ended in divorce, and she always claimed the best part of that marriage was walking down the aisle toward her groom. In those few moments, she felt the possibility of happiness; her hopes had not yet winnowed into solitude, even if it was just a lie. (loc 3502)

But frequency does not determine the depth of friendship. I’m glad for that. (loc 4540)

We cling to the most painful reminders of our youth, our memories or our injuries, perhaps so we can look back to our former selves, console them, and say: Keep going. I know how the story ends. (loc 4554)

Because if there’s anything I’d learned by then, by now, too, it’s that suffering doesn’t always have a point. Sometimes there’s nothing to learn from it. (loc 4663)

I didn’t yet realize how useless worry is, how we cling to it in hopes of controlling the outcome, but we can never control the outcome. (loc 5161)

That’s the beautiful power of absolution. It’s not so much about the ritual as it is about the need to unburden our stories onto someone who will carry the weight for us. (loc 5369)