Longtime local resident Mary Lea Caroll writes about the first ‘glass ceiling breakers’ with her first book ‘Saint Elsewhere: Travels in Search of the Lady Saints’
Published : Friday, June 14, 2019 | 4:48 AM
Mary Lea Carroll writes about women who broke the glass ceiling centuries ago in her new book Saint Everywhere: Travels in Search of the Lady Saints.The Pasadena author is embarking on a national book tour.
The book is a memoir about adventures she’s had in chasing some of the most remarkable women of all time.
“I was raising our three children and put my writing aside,” Carroll said. “But I had gotten to the point in my life where my children grew up and left and I needed a new chapter in my own life. I have a friend who said raising children is like pushing a rock uphill, you get to the top and it rolls away. I said, ‘Well I have done a good job raising my children, and everything is happening as it’s supposed to,’ but I wondered if there was anything left for me.”
The book covers 20 years of Carroll’s life as she evolved from tourist to researcher pursuing information about strong women over the centuries, beginning with Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) and including women as diverse as Saint Theresa of Avila to Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton from New York City and the Lady of Guadalupe of Mexico City.
“I began this in the year 2000 but I did not realize I was writing a book,” she said. “I was being a tourist. I’ve always kept fun and interesting travel notes when I’ve traveled. About five years ago I was cleaning out my office and was looking through my travel journals and thought, ‘Gee I wonder if there’s enough material here for a book?’”
Carroll said she didn’t plan to create such an extensive project.
“I had always wanted to do something like this but I never did,” Carroll said. “I thought maybe I could, maybe it could be me. As I was reading about the other saints, I was thinking these woman are so great but why is the writing so dull. I thought ‘I could do a new take on this material.’”
The book project would be the solution for her own life that she had been seeking. According to Carroll, as she developed an interest in writing about and researching the saints, she became reinvigorated. It’s less about religion than it is about a new outlook, she said.
“I thought, ‘Who are the women who have been important in life?” she said. “Nobody talks about women saints and talk about breaking glass ceilings. These are empowered women more than something different than that. I thought, today’s people would like to know how they did it, it’s about phenomenal women.”