I decided to re-read this first volume of Karen Armstrong's autobiography when the second (The Spiral Staircase) came to the top of Mt ToBeRead. I remembered most of the content - Karen is a former nun and this book explains why - but I'd forgotten how deeply moving I'd found it. This time around I think I only cried twice.
Last time I read Through the Narrow Gate, was either just before or during my journey to converting to Catholicism through the RCIA process. The Roman Catholic Church has changed a great deal since the 1960s when Karen was in her convent but, even so, I feel there was less I simply did not understand this time around. That said, Karen is excellent at explaining (as one would expect from such an established writer of religious non-fiction) but she doesn't go into the nuts and bolts of Catholicism in this book. Instead, she's focussed on her own spiritual journey in, and out, of a religious Order.
This could be a depressing book and, indeed, I believe Karen was probably depressed during some of the events she describes. In the Introduction she admits to having written several drafts which were 'black and angry' but the finished item is warm and engaging. Although she does not spare herself (or the Order) a long, hard look, she is generous with what she finds.
I'm looking forward to reading The Spiral Staircase when I'm finished my current book - Lisa Bevere's You are not What You Weigh.