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American Saint

The Life of Elizabeth Seton

Joan Barthel, with a Foreword by Maya Angelou

Thomas Dunne Books

In this riveting biography of Elizabeth Seton critically acclaimed and bestselling author Joan Barthel tells the mesmerizing story of a woman whose life featured wealth and poverty, passion and sorrow, love and loss. Elizabeth was born into a prominent New York City family in 1774. Her father was the chief health officer for the Port of New York and she lived down the block from Alexander Hamilton. She danced at George Washington's sixty-fifth Birthday Ball wearing cream slippers, monogrammed. Catholicism was illegal in New York when she was born; Catholic priests seen in the city were arrested, sometimes hung. When Elizabeth and her wealthy husband Will sailed to Italy in a doomed attempt to cure his tuberculosis, she and her family were quarantined in a damp dungeon. And when Elizabeth later became a Catholic, she was so scorned that people talked of burning down her house. American Saint is the inspiring story of a brave woman who forged the way for the other women who followed and who made a name for herself in a world entirely ruled by men. Elizabeth resisted male clerical control of her religious order, as nuns are doing today, and the publication of her story could not be more timely. Maya Angelou has contributed the foreword.

In this riveting biography of Elizabeth Seton critically acclaimed and bestselling author Joan Barthel tells the mesmerizing story of a woman whose life featured wealth and poverty, passion and sorrow, love and loss. Elizabeth was born into a prominent New York City family in 1774. Her father was the chief health officer for the Port of New York and she lived down the block from Alexander Hamilton. She danced at George Washington's sixty-fifth Birthday Ball wearing cream slippers, monogrammed. Catholicism was illegal in New York when she was born; Catholic priests seen in the city were arrested, sometimes hung. When Elizabeth and her wealthy husband Will sailed to Italy in a doomed attempt to cure his tuberculosis, she and her family were quarantined in a damp dungeon. And when Elizabeth later became a Catholic, she was so scorned that people talked of burning down her house. American Saint is the inspiring story of a brave woman who forged the way for the other women who followed and who made a name for herself in a world entirely ruled by men. Elizabeth resisted male clerical control of her religious order, as nuns are doing today, and the publication of her story could not be more timely. Maya Angelou has contributed the foreword.

BOOK EXCERPTS

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ONE
 
 
Elizabeth woke in darkness, to the ringing of church bells.
A wind gusted through crevices in the brick wall; the room was clenched in cold. Waves crashed on the rocks below as white foam splashed high and hard against the little barred window, blotting out the moonlight.
Will and Anna were still asleep on the cold brick floor. There was no fire, but Elizabeth’s eyes burned from fatigue, from yesterday’s stinging wind on the open boat that had brought them, an hour over pitching waves, to this despairing place.
“Prison” is the word Elizabeth
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REVIEWS

Praise for American Saint

"American Saint – The Life of Elizabeth Seton is a map which allows us to follow the journey of this remarkable woman.  We are able to examine each stop she made along the way and we are amazed at her courage to get up and start her journey again, against visible and tangible odds.”
—Maya Angelou, from her foreword for American Saint

“A significant book, fascinating in its portrayal of a groundbreaking woman, and a great pleasure to read." —Mary Higgins Clark

"A wonderful, terrifying book . . . Remarkable." —Nick Clooney

"Barthel is a fine and insightful observer of this larger-than-life woman who was so far ahead two hundred years ago that we’re still catching up with her." —Gloria Steinem

“A rich and moving chronicle of faith." —Tilar J. Mazzeo, New York Times bestselling author of The Widow Clicquot

"Thoughtful, sensitive, inspiring, provocative, and reliable." —James Martin, SJ, author of My Life with the Saints

"American Saint – The Life of Elizabeth Seton is a map which allows us to follow the journey of this remarkable woman.  We are able to examine each stop she made along the way and we are amazed at her courage to get up and start her journey again, against visible and tangible odds.”
—Maya Angelou, from her foreword for American Saint

“A significant book, fascinating in its portrayal of a groundbreaking woman, and a great pleasure to read." —Mary Higgins Clark

"A wonderful, terrifying book . . . Remarkable." —Nick Clooney

"Barthel is a fine and insightful observer of this larger-than-life woman who was so far ahead two hundred years ago that we’re still catching up with her." —Gloria Steinem

“A rich and moving chronicle of faith." —Tilar J. Mazzeo, New York Times bestselling author of The Widow Clicquot

"Thoughtful, sensitive, inspiring, provocative, and reliable." —James Martin, SJ, author of My Life with the Saints

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Joan Barthel, with a Foreword by Maya Angelou

  • JOAN BARTHEL is the author of A Death in Canaan, which spent many weeks on the bestseller list and was made into a CBS TV movie that was nominated for an Emmy Award. Following A Death in Canaan, Barthel wrote A Death in California and  collaborated with Rosemary Clooney on Girl Singer. Barthel has written profiles of celebrities for such publications as The New York Times Magazine and The Washington Post Magazine. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

    MAYA ANGELOU, who contributed the foreword, is a  poet and teacher who became famous with her 1970 memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Born in St. Louis, she was raised there and in Stamps, Arkansas, where she felt the sting of racial discrimination. She has lived in San Francisco, where she returned to high school and gave birth to her son, Guy, a few weeks after graduation; in Egypt, Ghana and New York. Angelou, 85, speaks seven languages; in 2000 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She now lives in North Carolina, where she is the Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University.

  • Joan Barthel © Randall Kahn
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Available Formats and Book Details

American Saint

The Life of Elizabeth Seton

Joan Barthel, with a Foreword by Maya Angelou

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Thomas Dunne Books

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