Fiction - Womens
388 Pages
Reviewed on 09/01/2022
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Author Biography

Paula Dail is a self-proclaimed "fire-breathing feminist" and life-long social justice advocate for women. With a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she is currently an Emerita Research Professor of Social Welfare and Public Policy. Widely published in the social sciences, FEARLESS is her 10th book. She has won several national and international awards for her previous non-fiction titles, a Booklist starred review, and has twice won the Council for Wisconsin Writers Non-fiction Book of the Year Award.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Fearless is a work of fiction in the women’s fiction and socio-political issues subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience and was penned by author Paula Dáil. In this astute and heartfelt examination of the role of women in the patriarchal society under the Catholic Church, we follow the exploits of our protagonist, Maggie Corrigan, a nun who takes up holy orders at a time when women had very few other choices. Having lost her mother to the totally preventable fate of having too many pregnancies, years later Maggie takes up the bold fight for reproductive rights against a system that’s controlled her entire life.

Books with these kinds of empowering, realistic messages are much needed in the oppressive world of fake news and false rhetoric we live in. One of the things I most enjoyed about this work was Maggie’s spirit and tenacity, even in the darkest times, and the moments where author Paula Dáil explores conversations, themes, and dialogues that are hauntingly familiar to what’s happening in the USA right now. Readers who are in tune with the women’s reproductive rights movement and those who have found themselves victims of religious oppression are certain to relate strongly to the concepts that are woven into Maggie’s life story. I also felt that the development of the dialogue and the emotional portrayal of the characters through their words and actions was superbly well done. Overall, I would certainly recommend Fearless to women’s fiction readers everywhere.

Viga Boland

In all my years of reading, I have never met a female protagonist like Maggie Corrigan. As the title of Paula Dail’s novel states, Maggie is Fearless, feisty, and free of brainwashed Catholic thinking…everything I’d love to be except for one thing: she’s a nun! She is also foul-mouthed and a thorn in the sides of the powerful upper Catholic clergy who work harmoniously with the criminal politicians to keep Chicago under their mutual domination. That, of course, means keeping women in their “rightful” place: at home, continuously pregnant, and under the control and mercy of their often drunk husbands.

Young Maggie Corrigan decides that becoming a nun is the only way to avoid that scenario. If you’ve ever wondered what women go through to become a nun, Paula Dail will enlighten you. Quite frankly, it’s awful. But Maggie perseveres because she is driven…but not by fervor for the Catholic Church with its restrictive, “ridiculous” beliefs. No way! Maggie is driven by the changes she believes that she, as a nun working in the community, can bring to the lives of abused, overworked mothers. She sees the only way to stop both male and church supremacy is to allow Catholic mothers access to birth control, and if a woman so chooses, to abortion. But to bring about such a radical change means taking on the holy Mother Church. Whoa, Maggie! You’ve got your work cut out for you. And in the end, Maggie, despite the small victories, what price will you have paid in a battle still not won in 2022?

I cannot express how much I loved this book. Kudos to Paula Dail for weaving research so beautifully into an engaging and unique plot. As I hungrily turned the pages of Fearless, through Maggie I came face to face with all the unanswered questions and inexplicable beliefs held by Catholicism and diverse organized religions. This novel proved to be far from just an interesting story with an unforgettable protagonist. This is a thinker’s book. It’s for those who dare to question the religions into which many of us are born: we are the ones not afraid of the answers if they don’t gel with what we’ve been taught. Fearless most likely won’t appeal to those who prefer to live with the devil they know than the one they don’t. But for those with enquiring minds, Fearless is a “must-read”.

Rabia Tanveer

Fearless by Paula Dáil is inspired by the true story of a fearless woman who fought for what she truly believed in. Born in Southside Chicago to an Irish Catholic family, Maggie Corrigan was the oldest of seven siblings. Losing her mother to childbirth after one too many pregnancies, Maggie knew her time was limited. She was told to choose marriage or the church at the age of 17. Deciding to live, Maggie became a nun. While some years are spent in harmony in the church, things change when the Vatican starts to label women’s reproductive rights and abortion as illegal. Maggie has seen what happens to women with unwanted pregnancies and she cannot stay quiet. Maggie starts to fight for women’s rights against men who have no right to dictate what a woman should or shouldn’t do with her body.

Released at a time when women in the United States are fighting for their reproductive rights and their rights as humans, Fearless is the perfect story to remind people some things are worth fighting for. While abortion and women’s reproductive rights are huge issues at the moment, Maggie’s struggles and her active participation in the fight just show how deep the issue is in society. It gave me great joy to know women like her existed outside of books and helped women who were stuck in loveless and fearful marriages. The narrative style was gentle and very simple, which complemented Maggie’s character exceptionally well. Author Paula Dáil did her research and made sure to embrace Maggie’s persona in the story. I was in awe of how well the story transitioned and flowed through the chapters. While the work she started may be far from over, her message to fight until your last breath will live on forever.