Mary Baker Eddy, by Gillian Gill

While factually rigorous, Gillian Gill's biography of Mary Baker Eddy is engaging and well paced. Gill writes with unusual directness about the difficulties of coming to grips with a life of such drama, passion and complexity as that of the founder of Christian Science. Even the book's appendices are lively, including an account of Gill's troubled dealings with Mother Church officials over archival-access policy, and sharply drawn sketches of previous Eddy biographers.

This is much to the point, since the controversies Eddy engendered as a woman religious leader spawned two biographical tradition: hagiography on the one hand and vitriolic attack on the other. Robert Peel's sympathetic but critically informed trilogy on Eddy was the first to break free of these alternatives. Gill, who is not a Christian Scientist, avoids them as well.

 

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