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It's deeply and beautifully appropriate that this book by the author of the classic cookbook, Laurel's Kitchen, should begin with a quote from one of America's greatest writers on food, M.F.K. Fisher. "It seems to me", Fisher writes, "that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it...". So too with Carol Flinders. Her preface describes her own journey from the kitchen to this very personal series of reflections on these seven women mystics (Saint Clare of Assisi, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Julian of Norwich, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Catherine of Genoa, Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint Therese of Lisieux), in each case giving us both an intimate and yet objective sense of the person and of her spirituality. Writing with real grace, in a style that is both personal and informed--she has a PhD in Comparative Literature from Berkeley--Flinders brings to this project a scholar's authority along with a very large heart. The result is a real gift: a delightful introduction to these extraordinary women. --Doug Thorpe [via]