Written in the end of 18th century, La Religieuse is based on a real story of a French woman who was forced into joining a convent by her parents, and fought for her freedom in 1758. The whole concept of a fake-memoir novel started as a practical joke that was meant to lure Marquis de Croismare (whom the fictional nun asks for assistance) back to Paris.
The heroine, Suzanne Simonin, is an illegitimate child of a French woman who is tricked into joining a convent, so that she would pay for her mother’s sin (of having an affair, which resulted in an illegitimate child). While at first content, she quickly starts to demand that she be allowed to be released from her vows.
The portrayal of the convent life is part terrifying, part satirical, although a modern reader must be warned that Diderot considered the accusations of homosexuality to be the height of satire. It is nevertheless, an interesting and hilarious(1) read.
My girlfriends and I, we all read it back in high school. There was giggling involved!
Especially recommended if you can giggle at gothic novels!
You can buy it like a normal greedy book collector person or read it here.
(1)If sometimes not for the right reasons *cackles*.