Date of Award

Fall 12-18-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Creative Writing



Major Professor

Joanna Leake

Second Advisor

Frederick Barton

Third Advisor

Barb Johnson


In The Sins of the Mothers, the main character, Bridgette, suffers a mental breakdown after the death of her three-month-old baby, Celeste, from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). She develops severe obsessive-compulsive disorder with the delusion that the child is trapped in Limbo because she was never baptized. The delusion haunts Bridgette, and she suffers brief dissociative episodes with visual hallucinations. Bridgette hears of a church in Provence where, according to a seventeenth century legend, children who died without baptism returned briefly to life under the intersession of Saint Pantaleon were baptized and gained heaven. She decides to exhume Celeste’s body and bring the corpse to Provence for the ceremony. She plans to find a priest to baptize the baby and bury Celeste in the churchyard. After unsuccessful attempts by her dysfunctional family to thwart her plans, Bridgette smuggles the ancestral christening dress and an attached piece of the baby’s hair to Provence where she fails to bury the dress in the now deconsecrated church. In the remainder of the novel, the reader learns of her attempts to reconcile with the results of her actions and heal from her mental illness.


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Available for download on Friday, December 18, 2020

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