This page features excerpts of customer reviews of my first book The Scent of Holiness: Lessons from a Women’s Monastery published by Conciliar Press – available in paperback and e-book format on Conciliar’s website, Amazon, and Barnes and Nobles.
“I loved reading every single page of this very inspiring and beautifully written book, and wished it didn’t come to an end… also wished I was living in the Monastery. Constantina Palmer has produced a book I will treasure and read again; my thoughts keep basking in the many stories she has recounted. I sincerely hope she will write more in the future.”
“The Scent of Holiness, by Constantina R. Palmer… [is] a collection of reminiscences of the author’s visits to a women’s monastery in Greece, and it’s chock-full of mysteries in ordinary time. This monastery—unnamed because it’s actually a composite of several monasteries—has a long tradition of holiness and martyrdom. Grace is baked into its ancient stones, and the miraculous there is commonplace.”
Five-star rating and review by Dr. D. L. Whitman on Barnes and Noble’s website:
“Regardless of the tradition of faith you may be a part of, The Scent of Holiness exudes a sweet fragrance worthy of contemplation. Spend some time with this book. I found it speaking of the Holy Spirit’s presence ever yet in the monastic orders. After reading this, you may want to visit a monastery near you and pray.”
“Matushka has divided the book into 33 knots, or chapters, bringing to mind the 33 knot prayer rope that many Orthodox Christians wear on their wrists to remind us to pray throughout each day. Within each chapter is a series of vignettes. These stories are varied – scenes from her visits to the monastery, talks with holy elders and the nuns, work, reflections, remembrances. These vignettes are presented to us very simply; we are allowed to be there during the events and conversations…
Having my degree in Literature (and this being a book review) I will also offer the opinion that the book is beautifully written. Matushka has a style of writing that is very fluid. Her sentences flow smoothly together, as do the stories and the chapters. The writing is simple, not ornate or “flashy,” and when combined with the content the experience is almost of being dragged through the book. Pulled, but very willingly.
Whether you have spent time in a women’s monastery or not, this book is immediately accessible to all. Potentially confusing things are explained without distracting, allowing the stories to be at the forefront at all times. In this book we encounter, even experience, the joy of Christ and the joy of the Christian life. I fear that sometimes we see following Christ as quite a burden in this fallen world – this book reminds us time and time again that ‘through the Cross JOY has come into all the world’.”
“Plenty has been written about Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox male clergy (particularly the monks at the famed Mt. Athos in Greece), and even a fair amount on Roman Catholic nuns of the past and those who are now ex-nuns, but what about present day women who are currently Eastern Orthodox Nuns… Well, this is your “go-to” book for this very special subject. Constantina Palmer gives a first hand account of what life is like for the women who choose to follow a monastic path within Orthodox Christianity…
We learn about how monasticism is a path that is taken by those who are indeed courageous but still have a fear (reverence) of God. We learn of nuns who came from various walks of life, and what lead them to this particular path. We learn of women who experienced tragedy and loss in their lives, but also experienced a richness of blessings, too. These are women who have enveloped their lives with a sense of spiritual mindfulness. It stays on them like incense or cologne, and permeates all they do and think…”
E. Marie Frangedakis of Eternal Orthodoxy wrote:
“Strangely enough, Constantina has truly captured the ‘scent of holiness’ found in women’s monasteries. Having gone to several monasteries myself, it was a gift to be able to perceive within the pages of a printed book, this wonderful spiritual Grace of God that lives and transforms the souls of humanity. Every lesson was joy, love, peace, humility, struggle and spiritual strength…There is no dry reading here!
Every chapter is short, having a few sections within for more intensive reading, and this adds and does not cut back on the depth of the lessons that are being shown… While reading it, I felt that I had revisited those monasteries I’d been to, and drank once-more from their deep spiritual wells.”
“Matushka Constantina spent considerable time visiting several women’s monasteries in Greece. She grew to know the nuns well and in the end was very much an ‘insider’. She is therefore able to give us a unique perspective on the day-to-day life in an Orthodox women’s monastery…
More importantly, through the numerous vignettes we are able to glean some of the simple lessons monasticism has to teach us. Lack of curiosity, humility, self-knowledge, control of thoughts, and obedience are a few of these priceless pearls. Matushka is careful to point out that never during her stays was she deliberately ‘taught’ by the nuns. They always taught by example or by relating stories of their own.
Not everything in the book is serious, far from it! In the course of her time in Greece Matushka was learning Greek and there are several humorous anecdotes in which this elementary knowledge played a part – to the great amusement of the nuns…”
The above sketches are my own original drawings, initially intended to be included in The Scent of Holiness. I’m glad they’ve found a home on the blog.