Saved by Beauty

Saved by Beauty

Michael O’Neill McGrath, World Library

Saved by Beauty is two things. It’s a biography about Dorothy Day, who was a journalist, social activist, Catholic convert and a source of inspiration to the author.

It is also a wonderful collection of Brother “Mickey” McGrath’s art work.

I will start with the pictures because they are just amazing. They invite the viewer to gaze at each one looking for every detail; every shell, the grass blown by the wind, every face, every outfit and the possibility of a surprising discovery.

I’m not going to give any spoilers or at least I hope I’m not, but have a good look at the picture of tenements in New York on page 2, without reading the information, and see what you will see. Each picture is a work of art.

The story of Dorothy Day is also interesting because of her search for beauty, which she believed could save the world.

McGrath shows an ordinary woman who did extraordinary things; who gave up the man she loved, and the father of her child, for her faith; who was sent to jail for demonstrating for campaigning for women’s right to vote, ignoring civil defence rights in the ’50s, for demonstrating against the Vietnam War in the ’60s and for farm workers’ right in the ’70s.

She helped set up communities of lay people organised to deal with unemployment and hunger during the Depression, and she began the newspaper the Catholic Worker.

She also cooked, wrote, studied the saints, painted, farmed and gardened, gathered sea shells, made mistakes and regretted them, spoke out against evil, cared for sick staff with good books and good music, loved and enjoyed her family and was an inspiration to many.

Saved by Beauty is an extraordinary book about an extraordinary woman by an extraordinary artist.

Katy Gerner

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