Anything is Possible!

With Love, Hope, and Perseverance


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My Review of The Twisted Circle by Rosaliene Bacchus

Spiritual Courage in the Face of Toxic Harassment

The Twisted Circle tells the story of Sister Barbara, a nun who has just transferred to a convent in the northern jungle region of Guyana to teach school. Like the other nuns, she cares very much about the students. Her sudden promotion to the position of headmistress of the school infuriates the antagonist, Sister Francis, a white woman from the US, who believes she has more experience. Sister Francis has an inappropriately close relationship with the priest, Father Goodman. She thinks of him as more than a friend and is very possessive of him. I find the choice of names (Francis and Goodman) interesting, perhaps supporting the realization that people are not always as pious as they appear.

It’s helpful that we get to read the thoughts of both Sister Barbara and Sister Francis. The additional perspective allowed me to see Sister Francis as more than jealous and spiteful. Her journal entries reveal that the antagonist is overcome by paranoid delusions. This of course does not excuse her behavior as she attempts to destroy Barbara’s reputation. Reading as a white woman from the US, it was humbling and enlightening to experience Francis through the eyes of Barbara who is of East Indian and African heritage and often referred to, by herself and others, as Black.

Barbara struggles with self-doubt but shows admirable courage as she strives to do the work God has given her to do in a toxic environment of conflict, betrayal, and sexual harassment from men in religious and political authority. We feel how sad and frustrating it is that her colleague, Francis, craves the attention of a man at the expense of integrity. If Barbara and Frances could have been friends, they would have been able to support each other, but Francis’ twisted delusions prevented this. Meanwhile, the nuns in charge of the convent do not want to challenge the patriarchy or reveal its secrets.

Despite the lack of support from the church, Barbara remains faithful to God and finds comfort in the beauty of nature. When she stops to admire a velvet rose, she thinks, “God had to be a woman to create such beauty.” She also finds comfort in the forest spirits believed to live in the surrounding jungle. She shows spiritual maturity in her devotion to God while being open to the message she receives from the forest spirit to “walk in the light of the moon goddess, … feel the wind caress (her) weary body” … and “refresh (her) wounded spirit in the bosom of Mother Earth.”

While Sister Barbara, being a well-developed character, is not perfect, I greatly admire her strength and perseverance and enjoyed cheering her on as I read the book. I also admire the author Rosaline Bacchus, a former nun and a native of Guyana, for bringing us this story with compassion and courage. It is an enlightening story that nudges spiritual growth.

To see more about The Twisted Circle on Amazon, click HERE.

Visit the author’s blog HERE.


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Epiphanies from Under The Tamarind Tree by Rosaliene Bacchus

front-cover-under-the-tamarind-tree

At first I didn’t think I had much in common with Richard Cheong, the main character in Under the Tamarind Tree.  His story is set  in the country of Guiana during the 1950s and 60s during a time of political and personal danger which I have never experienced.  Richard’s father was Chinese and his mother was from India. His dream is to have a big chicken farm. The father of three girls, he is obsessed with longing for a son.

Stepping into a different culture, even through reading a novel, is often uncomfortable at first. Reading this book helped me grow in humility and understanding.  As I read, I grew to like Richard and to care very much about him and his family.

I realized that there are important things that transcend culture. Richard and I do have things in common. His little brother was killed at the age of 8.  My little sister was killed at age 16. Richard loves his daughters who are important in the story. The misunderstandings and dynamics between Richard and his wife were familiar and realistic.

Richard makes mistakes, but he is a good man. He works hard for his family and his dream. Bad things happen that are beyond his control. We are reminded that hurt people hurt people, and at times, revenge runs rampant. Revenge is like a character that rears it’s ugly head more as the story progresses. Hard truths come to light. Through it all, Richard perseveres.

There’s a lesson in this story that rings true. If we persevere and keep doing the right things, however imperfectly, life has a way of working out –  maybe very differently than we planned, but sometimes better than we imagined.

Under the Tamarind Tree is well-written and rich with detail. I’m grateful to Rosaliene Bacchus for teaching me so much about Guyanese culture and history,  for helping me open my heart to our common humanity, and for reinforcing that hope lives in the midst of seemingly unbearable challenges.

You can learn more about Rosaliene at her writer’s website

Or by reading her blog: Three Worlds One Vision