Saturday 19 March 2022

Borne on the Wind - Alice Curtayne

Borne on the Wind
Alice Curtayne

ISBN 9781950970810

I will be honest, I picked this book up never having read a description, review or really knowing anything about it. In fact I had always thought it was one of Curtayne’s novels. I picked it up because it was a new edition of a long out of print book by Alice Curtayne. A few years back I encountered the works of Alice Curtayne. I became fascinated by them. I was able to track down about a dozen of the 32 books and booklets I believe she wrote. It should be noted that this reprint edition from Cluny is very well done. Unlike many book brought back from the public domain, this volume went through a process of a high quality scan. And a complete re-typesetting. Cluny is dedicated to restoring quality editions of old books, focused on the Catholic Tradition. Their motto is: ‘Promote the tradition. Preserve the Past.’ Which is a very worthy cause. Unfortunately, there is not an eBook edition of this, nor of any of the other five Alice Curtayne volumes they have resurrected. It seems to be rather random which of their books end up with electronic editions. More the pity. But back to this volume. The description of the new Cluny edition is:

“Borne on the Wind opens a wide window onto fourteen little-known but remarkably vibrant people, places, and moments of history, spanning fifteen centuries and the entire European continent. Part One, “Today and Yesterday,” covers such figures and events as Blessed Matt Talbot, Theobald Mathew, and the 1932 Eucharistic Congress in Dublin. Part Two, “Far and Wide,” describes an array of topics, ranging from the “Vincete la battaglia del grano” in Italy and the proper time to build a Cathedral to the septecentenary of St. Anthony of Padua and the the letters of St. Catherine de Ricci. First published in 1934, Borne on the Wind evidences the lavish attention to detail, vivid descriptive powers, and resilient humor and hopefulness that marked Curtayne’s career of writing.”

And the sections and chapters in this book are:

I Today and Yesterday
     The Silence of Matt Talbot
     The Eucharistic Congress in Dublin
     An Excursion into the Fifth Century
     The Paradox of Theobald Mathew
     Irish Fioretti
     Saint Patrick and the Cyclops

II Far and Wide
     Italy’s Battle of the Wheat
     The Septecentenary at Padua
     The Truth About Giovanni Papini
     Saint Catherine of Siena
     The Letters of Saint Catherine De Ricci
     On Building a Cathedral When the Time Is Not Ripe
     The Confessions of Saints Augustine and Patrick

Many of the pieces in this volume were previous published in magazines, newspapers, and periodicals. The Acknowledgements states:

“For permission to reprint the various papers that form this book, grateful thanks to the Management of The Clergy Review, London, and to the Editors of The Spectator, London; The Missionary, Washington; The Cathedral Record, Liverpool; The Irish Rosary, The Father Mathew Record, Assisi, and The Standard, Dublin. Since publication, all the essays have been rewritten for the purpose of reprinting in book form.”

This book was originally published in 1934, and all of the pieces would have predated that. And what we have is fourteen wonderful pieces. This volume was very hard to put down once I started. It flowed from one excellent piece to another. A mix of people, places and events. Masterfully written. Finding out about the Battle of Wheat in Italy might not seem fascinating but it was. Reading about Matt Talbot was inspiring. And the comparisons between Saint Patrick and Francis was illuminating. 

This is an excellent volume. And we owe a debt of gratitude to Cluny for bring it back in print. I highly recommend this wonderful collection. If you are already a fan of Curtayne’s I am certain you will enjoy it. It you are unfamiliar with her and her works it is a great starting point. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan

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