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Each of us is part of a family that has a past, present and future.
Mary MacKillop is dying. As she lies on her deathbed in a little white room in which she has nothing to look at except a crucifix, she is bored rather than fearful.
Small groups of nuns come to her bedside to pray and say goodbye to the woman who has had such an influence and impact on their lives. Mary wants to comfort them, even make them laugh, but because her rheumatism and a stroke have paralysed her, all she can do is lie in her bed and remember.
She is not afraid of death and is prepared for it - indeed, at first she cannot understand why she hasn't been taken already. But as she reflects on her early life, she realises that she has some unresolved issues, particularly with her father, and she believes that God requires her to sort these out before He can receive her.
Although this is a biography, it is written very much as an autobiography, and Pamela Freeman brings a unique perspective to a story that could have been just a dry, episodic collection of facts. As well as providing an insight into the beginnings of what became an important life, it offers readers the opportunity to reflect on their own lives and to identify who they are and where they might be headed.
Pamela Freeman is an Australian author who has written many books for children. When she talks of her writing she says:
'When I'm writing a story, I aim for two things: that the reader should care about the characters, and that the story should be fun to read. "Fun" can mean funny, or exciting, or dramatic - but whatever style the book is in, I want the reader to be so caught up in the story that they would be annoyed if someone interrupted them.'
'Most of my books are fantasies. Fantasy stories deal with truth, justice, good, evil, love, courage and kindness - what more could you ask?'
Even though The Black Dress is not a fantasy, it does deal with truth, justice, good, evil, love, courage and kindness, and the author has used her expertise to really bring Mary MacKillop to life.
Mary MacKillop's story www.sosj.org.au
Mary MacKillop - faith hope and charity www.catholicaustralia.com.au
Holy Cross Family Ministries - stages of canonisation www.familyrosary.org
Catholic Encyclopaedia - beatification and canonisation www.newadvent.org
Six symbols www.beacy.wa.edu.au
Before reading the book
During and after reading the book