“It is easy to think of Vatican II, which convened during Armstrong’s convent years, as a switch that was flipped: one day, the Roman Catholic church was full of Latin, and the next day everyone prayed in the vernacular. One week, parishioners heard Gregorian chant, and the next guitars and praise choruses. Armstrong’s memories undo the easy shorthand of hindsight. Yes, the nuns in her orbit modernized their habits, but many of them resisted the strange and sometimes scary changes Pope John XXIII had inaugurated. Armstrong’s remembered convent offers a salutary reminder of the difficulty of institutional change, an intimate study of the fits, starts and challenges of post-Vatican II Catholicism. ” — Lauren F. Winner reviewing Karen Armstrong’s new book, The Spiral Staircase, in The New York Times. One brilliant, off-kilter, religiously unstable memoirist reviewing another. It’s better than mudwrestling.