Eager to shake off the indelible brand of a Catholic upbringing, Patricia Hampl seeks the “old world” of Catholicism. On her pilgrimage to Saint Francis’s Assisi, she meets other seekers–crotchety English agnostics, American friars and nuns, and the ardent souls that fill every charter flight. Inevitably, she finds the “old world” right at home, in the very past she had tried to escape. What she’s looking for confronts her, finally, on a retreat at a monastery near the Lost Coast of northern California in the still, virgin moments of silent prayer…

“Hampl’s prose is beautifully incisive, delivering her cascading reflections and sardonic asides on some loutish fellow pilgrims with equal vigor.”
Library Journal

“Virgin Time is beautifully written, full of sometimes humorous but always recognizable descriptions of a Midwestern Catholic upbringing, and with such astute observations of the human scene that one might enjoy it just for that. Some readers might be caught off guard by the depth and significance of the concluding chapter. It is wonderful reading.”

Virgin Time: In Search of the Contemplative Life
Farrar Strauss Giroux (paperback: North Point Press)
ISBN: 0865477167
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year