Defiant Daughters is a collection of stories about inspirational women from all over the world and all over history who had deep religious lives and whose faith lead them to courageous action. It includes women you’d expect to see such as St. Joan of Arc, Teresa of Avila and Dorothy Day. It also includes women you may have never heard of before such as Anne Askew, Honora Nagle, and Satoko Kitahara.
Reading it all the way through, it was a fairly quick read. It does inspire you to learn more about the women, which is a good thing for two reasons:
- They are praiseworthy women. When we are daily surrounded with such filth through the media, it’s good to learn about them. As the Bible says, we are supposed to think about those things that are godly.
- God bless the author, Marcy Heidish, but sometimes her depictions of these women aren’t 100% accurate. I walked away from the book not entirely sure if the author was Catholic or not because, particularly with the saint profiles, her depictions of it all had so many tiny flaws. She seemed more than happy on multiple occasions to paint the Catholic Church in a bad light and not always deservingly. She is a Benedictine Oblate but in many places, you don’t have to be Catholic to practice a Benedictine spirituality.
Overall, I hope that second point doesn’t turn too many people away if for no other reason than the women in this book deserve recognition.
I do have one major beef with this book, however. The vast majority of the women in this book either gave up family life all together or abandoned their children to pursue their calling. It’s a repeated theme. One woman sent all of her younger children to live with family so she could minister to people in a war-torn country. Another left her children with their father so she could travel the US preaching about injustice. Yet another left her baby, newly weaned, to be a martyr. These are only three examples in a book that contains more.
It serves as an insult to the vocation of motherhood. Like motherhood is not an heroic endeavor, but abandoning your own children to fight for other causes is. This is balanced somewhat with the second to the last story of the book in which women become heroines precisely because they are mothers. I would challenge the author, however, to write another book featuring stories of mothers.
Overall, I did enjoy this book and I hope that the complaints I had don’t drive people away. Books about strong women of faith can be hard to come by and they are important to read when one finds them.