Reviews Mother Teresa beyond the image

“ I cannot help thinking Mother Teresa would have a sneaking regard for Anne Sebba who has provided her with a meticulous, balanced and forthright biography. As her subtitle suggests, Sebba moves beyond the polarised images of Mother Teresa as either the embodiment of human goodness or Hell’s Angel. While appreciating her subject’s magic, Sebba is never beguiled by it.”

Peter Stanford, Sunday Telegraph

Anne Sebba is that valuable kind of biographer, the post-official kind.What is admirable about Sebba’s book is its gentle fairness- it’s readiness to enter the dilemma which was Mother Teresa by recording good and bad even-handedly. She comes to the scene with a freshness  which stops well short of naivete. Sebba is very good on the Teresa Phenomenon.

Monica Furlong, The Times Literary Supplement

“Anne Sebba gives us a book – and an excellent one too – not quite a history, not quite a biography not quite a social comment, in which she tries to understand the phenomenon of Mother Teresa. Anne Sebba, in search of understanding, has done research beyond the call of duty. Sebba herself is both shocked and moved by what she discovered. Shocked by the leprosy centre, at the waste, at the lack of organisation lack of training for carers; moved by the Mother House , the nucleus of the whole international organisation, “an inspirational sort of place.  A drab, concrete, four -storey building on a noisy street is what it appears from the outside. But inside I was aware of a palpable heartbeat… everything calm, cool and peaceful as the sari- clad women and girls rose, one by one, to take communion, forming as they did so a moving crucifix in a sort of stylised ballet.”

Fay Weldon, Mail on Sunday

“Anne Sebba, author of this latest and very modern biography of Mother Teresa…Thankfully Sebba has written a rigorously objective  book that is the product of  extensive interviews with supporters and detractors. Reflecting on their views and drawing on her own meeting with the subject and her experience of India,  Sebba conducts a fascinating debate around key issues of politics and society  which were inextricably linked to Teresa’s life. In so doing Sebba pulls few punches while never losing an underlying sympathy for her extraordinary subject.

Sebba is at her most critical from a feminist, as well as socio economic point of view, in her account of Teresa’s refusal to countenance abortion and artificial forms of contraception under any circumstances. She questions, too, the haphazard nature of the medical treatment in the homes for the dying, the children and the diseased. Throughout, Sebba gives necessary emphasis to the driving force behind Teresa’s personality and the dynamic at the heart of  her work. Mother Teresa Beyond the Image is a timely book for those of  tired of icons created by TV images.

Jimmy Burns, Financial Times

Sebba’s timely nonjudgmental book is a “must read” for  those interested in the debate between religious and secular belief, the ethics of charity and the history and culture of Calcutta as well as for readers interested simply in an extraordinary life.

Krishna Dutta, The Times Higher see front page

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