|Guyana Novel: The Twisted Circle
the convent, I balked at the idea. To embark on a journey back to a time and
place that caused me grief would require some meaningful purpose. The 2012
documentary film, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, that explores
the first known public protest against clerical sex abuse in the US, gave me the
impetus I needed.
The Twisted Circle is inspired by real events that took place during my final year
(1976-1977) in a Catholic convent in Guyana. Laced with jealousy, deception,
and betrayal, it's a tale of a young woman's journey to self-determination.
The plot unravels in the isolated rainforest of Guyana’s northwest region during
the period of civil rebellion (1979-1980) against the authoritarian government
which culminates in the assassination of the opposition socialist leader, Dr.
Walter Rodney on June 13, 1980. The Jonestown Massacre in November 1978 in
the same region seemed to unleash a bloodletting beast across the thirteen-year-
old independent nation.
Afraid that her religious superiors would deem her unworthy to take her perpetual
vows, young Guyanese nun, Sister Barbara Lovell, leaves the coastal capital for
the hinterlands to escape her groping parish priest, Father Andrew Peterson. In
her jungle refuge, District Education Officer Douglas Simmons, a Don Juan,
targets her as his next conquest.
Sister Frances Adler, a white nun from Dayton, Ohio, is a professed sister and
eight years older than Barbara. She was sent to the Guyana Mission to deal with
her grief and guilt after the death of her brother, a Vietnam veteran. When
Barbara joins the Santa Cruz convent, Frances views the beautiful, captivating
local nun as a threat to her obsessive relationship with her British spiritual
director and parish priest, Father Geoffrey Goodman.
Both high school teachers at the Mabaruma Secondary School, located in the
administrative center of Guyana's North West Region, the two nuns clash at
school. When Barbara's thirteen-year-old student, Raven Mendonza, produces a
twisted circle for his end-of-term art test, Barbara fails to understand its
meaning. At the age of eight, Raven, the son of an indigenous Carib shaman, was
molested by a British priest: a well-guarded secret among the sisters at the
Santa Cruz convent.
SETTING OF NOVEL
The novel is rooted in the northwest region of Guyana, now known as the Barima-
Waini Region, that extends from the Venezuela border to the west and the
Atlantic Ocean to the northeast. Numbering over 18,000 in 1980, the population
of mostly Amerindians - Arawak, Carib, and Warrau - live in over 30 isolated
villages along the banks of the rivers in the region.
Learn more about Mabaruma, the administrative center or regional capital
founded in 1890, in the video on the left panel. Of Amerindian origin, the name
'Mabaruma' means 'grater' used for grating the cassava (yuca, manioca), the
staple food crop of the Amerindian population.
Learn more about Amerindian production of cassava bread and the derivative
food preservative, cassareep, in another video link provided on the left panel.
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THIS PAGE WAS LAST UPDATED ON: 8 JANUARY 2020
|LIVING ON THE
[SONG RELEASED 1979]
THE TWISTED CIRCLE
AUGUST 28, 2009
DURATION: 8:31 MINUTES
REGION OF GUYANA
OCTOBER 22, 2009
DURATION 8:17 MINUTES
|The Twisted Circle