Continuing our privileged ways is not an option.
A Book Review
The future is female in Rosalie Morales Kearns’ debut novel, Kingdom of Women. A thought-provoking and introspective piece of women’s fiction written for all readers, and, in my perspective a must-read for all. A patriarchal nation meets a feminine justice as the reader follows Averil Parnell in the difficult role of being the first, and only, surviving Catholic priest to navigate a spiritual career as the nation goes into a gender war, women and feminist allies versus the patriarchal society.
Father Parnell (I’d have preferred to have done away with the masculine honorific) is the only surviving female Catholic priest due to her phlegmatic and mystic nature. She was late to her ordination ceremony, blessed to have been spared from the Cathedral Massacre. She becomes a person of interest and suspected of instigating the formation of women vigilante groups to fight for justice against male predators, accused of “conspiring to destabilize our whole society and its democratic fabric.”
An equally mysterious, and just as empowered as Averil, is the character of Catherine Beck. Her role is as guardian of women, having lost her faith in god and thinking it was “pretty” to believe in justice and mercy. A strong woman that becomes a leader in the war on patriarchy, and creating a sisterhood with “a moral code” in which “hesitation was a weakness [and] forgiveness a moral failure.”
Morales Kearns shares with readers a couple of role models challenged with the dislike of the masculine intrigue, the likes of John Honig, whose hook up conversation with women includes the legal rights of a husband to rape his wife. Later, as a Traitor Man, John comments sarcastically on his imprisonment as a therapeutic male group session, talking about their boyhood and the misguided societal upbringing experienced by boys on the image of women. These two female characters offer readers the opportunity to reflect on the possibility of a feminine future and the plausible extreme outcomes of a matriarchal society. The logical extreme of a “comfortable” sequestration of males and cleansing of the male gender through parthenogenesis to rid society of pigs as role models versus the sentimental extreme that nurtures a male’s artistic, humane quality, worthy of forgiveness and reeducation.
There are several, many, provocative thoughts posed by Morales Kearns in a well-written debut novel that can be used as a literary study on any one topic or combination thereof, including gender, religion, politics, spirituality, the human condition, and beyond. Well worth the 276 pages and its last warning to man by Hildegard of Bingen.
I highly encourage you to read, Kingdom of Women by Rosalie Morales Kearns and keep an eye out for her following literary projects, I will.
ABOUT Rosalie Morales Kearns | A writer of Puerto Rican and Pennsylvania Dutch descent, Morales Kearns is the founder of Shade Mountain Press, the author of the magic-realist story collection Virgins and Tricksters, and the editor of the short story anthology The Female Complaint: Tales of Unruly Women. A product of Catholic schooling from kindergarten through college, Morales Kearns has a B.A. in theology from Fordham University and an MFA from the University of Illinois.