The Cost of truth by Julie K Parrott
The following review by Bonnie first appeared in Queensland Pride Magazine, Issue 352. October 10, 2014. If you missed it here it is:
Cost of Truth tells the story of Donna Gordon: daughter, sister, novice nun, nurse, wife, lover and mother. Donna Gordon is also a lesbian.
Growing up in a devoutly Catholic family in North Queensland, Donna’s early life follows an unremarkable path. Packed off to boarding school to complete her education, she naively encounters her first inappropriate, though not altogether unwanted, attention from a female teacher which permeates the years to come.
Following her graduation, Donna makes the decision to pursue her faith and become a nun. She enters the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in Brisbane. Here, she forms a close relationship with a fellow novice, Susan, that only ends when Susan leaves without explanation. After becoming involved in a teaching role, Donna decides that being a nun is not for her and returns to Townsville to study nursing.
Donna’s life is shattered by the unexpected death of her beloved father, an event that sees her return home to support her mother and brother through their grief. It is at this time she meets Michael Gordon, a deeply religious man and son of a local affluent family. After a formal courtship and with a little encouragement from Donna, Michael proposes.
Through a honeymoon, multiple house moves, and the birth of five children, Donna is revealed as someone with a deep and loving commitment to her family. In her mid-30’s, with her youngest child just 14 months old, Donna forges a friendship with another woman, which shatters the world she has built for herself. Donna’s discovery that her true feelings of connection can only be felt with another woman, and not her husband, prove to be a catalyst.
As the title suggests, this narrative explores the cost of Donna’s decision to practice her ingrained belief of truth and honesty. It is undeniable that her choice, while providing personal freedom and liberation, correspondingly triggers intense grief, loss and guilt. Forced to leave her children and husband and ostracised by friends, Donna struggles to remain independent and rebuild her life.
Over the following years, Donna’s strength prevails, she reinvents herself, healing the past and forging new relationships to find her life partner, Di. Donna is confronted with another life-altering challenge when diagnosed with metastatic bone cancer for which she is undergoing treatment.
The author does a good job establishing Donna’s confident, outgoing personality along with a healthy dose of egotism, though it is these same traits which sometimes make the character’s responses to events appear flippant. The writing style is very factual, sometimes repetitive, though does provide a lot of detail. The book also raises many questions surrounding Donna’s early feelings, her association with the church after coming out, and her liaisons with other women. Unfortunately not much information is provided in response to these questions and therefore it fails to fully engage on an emotional level. Overall, it is an interesting read, and those who have experienced a similar path or know people who have will likely enjoy it.