The Visitation

The Visitation

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The Flynn girls, just two of a seemingly endless number of Flynn children, are naturally curious about where their little siblings come from. Well versed in the bizarre lives and gruesome deaths of their favorite saints, they have yet to crack the mysteries of the more earthly concerns of procreation and human relations. Blessed enlightenment comes, however, when the Virgin Mary appears and asks them to buy her suitable clothes for her earthly mission -- a campaign for birth control.
Set against the backdrop of the impending Vatican II decisions that wreaked havoc on many Catholic lives and the sprawl of the more permissive 1960s, this crackling, smart, and thoughtful novel is sure to delight.
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  • Scribner | 
  • 272 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780684839547 | 
  • December 1997
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Reading Group Guide


  1. When The Visitation begins, Catherine and Theresa spend their free time reenacting the bloody deaths of martyred young women. "All their heros were women," Reidy writes, "and most of them had died horribly—their deaths caused, naturally, by men." Why are the girls so interested in the stories that end the most brutally? Are they subconsciously preparing themselves for destinies controlled by men? Or are they glorifying the headstrong behavior of the women in history who refused to back down—and paid for their transgressions with their lives?
  2. Catherine and Theresa each represent at different times the two models for females found within Catholicism: "pure" and "fallen." Yet, in reality, neither is truly saintly or depraved. What other female figures represent "bookend" characters who serve as one another's foil? Is the behavior of these women truly different from one another?
  3. At one point, Catherine and Theresa are seated at exact opposite ends of a church pew, symbolizing their growing emotional separation. What are other examples of their gradual detachment from one another? How does their behavior mirror one another at some points, and greatly differ at others?
  4. The older Flynn girls have a profound influence on their younger sister, Francie. Whose behavior will Francie emulate more as she gets older? Will she have the courage to forge her own path—different from both her parents and her sisters? W
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