Why was my beloved God male?
Why were Bible stories mostly about men?
Why was Eve responsible for the Fall of Man?
Why were there abusers in the Church?
Louise Omer was a Pentecostal preacher and faithful wife. But when her marriage crumbled, so did her beliefs.
Haunted by questions about what it means to be female in a religion that worships a male God, she left behind a church and home to ask women around the world: how can we exist in patriarchal religion? And can a woman be holy?
With $500 in her pocket and the conviction that she was following a divine path, Louise began a pilgrimage that has taken her to Mexican basilicas, Swedish cathedrals, Bulgarian mountains, and Moroccan mosques. Holy Woman combines travel writing, feminist theology, and confessional memoir to interrogate modern religion and give a raw and personal exploration of spiritual life under patriarchy.
An engaging travel memoir about one woman’s search for the divine.
“Omer leads by example, showing us how to re-imagine heroism, grace, and redemption—above all, in our own lives. A vital story, so powerfully written.”
—Sarah Krasnostein, author of The Trauma Cleaner and The Believer
“Holy Woman is a delight. Raw, honest, and probing, at times furious, Omer’s journey toward the feminine divine is one that both entertains and inspires.”
—Monica Dux, author of Lapsed
“What could have been an Eat Pray Love–style travelog is satisfyingly furious (and beautifully written), as Omer realizes the error in her premise: monotheistic religions are inherently patriarchal and will never be feminist in practice. The interesting, intelligent women Omer meets interpret scripture to carve out spaces for themselves—but always in the face of great opposition and threat.”
“Holy Woman is an accomplished work of narrative nonfiction that does what the best memoirs should, in using personal experience and reflection as a springboard for an in-depth interrogation of society and culture. It’s an intelligent and fiercely felt piece of writing that urges readers to think deeply, and to find their own ways to be holy, whatever that might look like.”
—Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen, The Sydney Morning Herald
“Beautifully written, honest, and wise, Holy Woman is a search for meaning—and a very personal feminist reckoning with spirituality and self.”
—Cheryl Akle, The Weekend Australian
“Holy Woman is an intriguing combination of memoir, travel writing, history, and feminist theology. An interesting and thought-provoking book.”
—Jeff Popple, Canberra Weekly
“[Omer] weaves together auto-ethnography, memoir, and travel writing to craft a compelling commentary on the ways patriarchal norms inform Christian practice, limiting women’s experience of spirituality and the divine … As she goes, she draws on social research, feminist theory, and feminist theology … Omer encourages us to confidently persist on the road to holiness and wholeness—wherever that road leads. May you travel it well, with other holy women, and Holy Woman.”
“Holy Woman is an intercontinental search for the Goddess and for the roots of male-centric faith systems, as well as hard-won insights into the life Omer had previously accepted, but no longer will … readers of Elizabeth Gilbert will enjoy Omer’s personal story, in particular its funny personal vignettes. But—as with Eat Pray Love—this is a serious journey, undertaken at a moment of severe personal trauma for the writer, and lighter moments are overshadowed by more serious ones. Yet it is a positive book. Holy Woman will challenge assumptions about religion and faith and the culture we accept. Perhaps for some, as it did for me, it will solidify their doubts.”
—Rebecca Whitehead, Books+Publishing
“[Holy Woman is] written with forthright intelligence and gut-wrenching honesty.”
—Bob Moore, Good Reading Magazine
“[Holy Woman] cleverly weaves between past and present … Omer has some exquisite turns of phrase, and a skilful handling of syntax, both of which elevate her prose … At its heart, Omer’s memoir is a ‘feminist confrontation of patriarchal religion’. It is also, in part, a handbook for people who might feel dissatisfied with traditional religious structures … [but even] for readers who are not religious, Holy Woman remains a fruitful read.”
—Ellie Fisher, ArtsHub
“Omer is a sensitive investigator, at every turn unflinchingly honest, aware of her privilege and particular world view. Combining travel writing, biography, and cultural critique, Holy Woman is a fascinating call to arms for everyone to question the role of patriarchal religions in male supremacy.”
—Kara Nicholson, Readings
“Omer is a keen observer and her writing is meticulously descriptive … [where she] particularly excels is in analyzing how symbols, rituals, and language are used to condition belief and fortify power structures. As she reiterates throughout the book, when the language and images used to denote divine perfection are exclusively male, men see their identities represented and affirmed in a way no one else can. Omer concludes not with a single, definitive solution, but with an invitation to reclaim rituals and rethink conventions, and above all to keep asking difficult questions.”
—Megan Koch, InDaily
“Few authors will strip themselves bare (literally and metaphorically) in the primal and honest way Omer does in this work. Holy Woman is an intense read, and yet one which (like Omer’s God) never asks more of the reader than she is able to handle … The humility with which Omer approaches her search never tips into either self-pity or an inverted ego-trip. And above all, Omer is simply a beautiful, beautiful, writer. She crafts sentences, paragraphs, and observations that sometimes take the breath away … This is a spiritual book which goes beyond the strictly religious to tap into an essence in all of us. It is an outstanding work of memoir, self-discovery, and feminist inquiry.”
—Tracey Korsten, Glam Adelaide
“Louise Omer’s Holy Woman is an earnest memoir based around informal pilgrimages to meet women faith leaders in search of a spirituality free of men’s domination … Pairing an insider’s perspective on religion with a seeker’s curiosity, Holy Woman is both a personal story and a feminist theology taster.”