Buy Used
$3.99
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Eligible for Amazon's FREE Super Saver/Prime Shipping, 24/7 Customer Service, and package tracking. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Letters of a Portuguese Nun: Uncovering the Mystery Behind a 17th Century Forbidden Love Paperback – February 14, 2007


See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback, February 14, 2007
$1.40 $0.01

Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

The Bone Clocks
David Mitchell's hypnotic new novel crackles with invention and sheer storytelling pleasure. Learn more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Miramax; Reprint edition (February 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401360165
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401360160
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.7 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,991,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1669, five letters, supposedly written by a Portuguese nun, were published in Paris. They spoke of heartbreak at the desertion of a French lover after a passionate affair. The letters were a resounding success in French polite and literary society, and almost immediately sparked a controversy. Were they really the anguished cries of a scorned woman or the work of a talented male writer desperate for employment? Cyr, a stage and screen actress, claims—contra most scholars—that Mariana Alcoforado, the daughter of a rich and influential family, wrote the letters to the dashing French officer Chamilly after he returned to France. The story is fascinating, and Cyr does a good job of setting the context of 17th-century Portuguese and French life, explaining the role of convents in social and commercial realms as well as the international politics that brought Chamilly to Portugal. It's clear that Cyr did extensive research; she is not, however, a writer or a historian. Though her account is compelling and plausible, proof of Mariana's authorship, or even that she had an affair with Chamilly, remains circumstantial at best, and Cyr's argument rests on her own strong response to the sentiments in the letters. (Jan. 11)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In 1669, a Parisian bookseller published a volume of love letters that took Paris by storm. Purportedly written by a Portuguese nun to a French officer, they detailed a forbidden love affair so passionate it captured the imagination of an entire nation. Although debate remained as to the identity, sex, and status--an impoverished writer, perhaps?--of the author, the letters themselves touched a collective chord in the hearts and the minds of the literati. Centuries later, Cyr traces the origins of the letters to Mariana Alcoforado, the cloistered daughter of a Portuguese aristocrat. As the tale of the star-crossed lovers unfolds, one gets the sense that Cyr is more caught up in the possibilities of a romantic love story than in actually authenticating the authorship of the letters. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
5 star
7
4 star
4
3 star
0
2 star
2
1 star
2
See all 15 customer reviews
I was struck by how poorly written, poorly organized, and poorly argued it was.
a reader
In her first book, Letters of a Portuguese Nun, she explores the story of Mariana Alcoforado, a seventeenth century nun who fell in love with a French officer.
Rebecca Taylor
This book is a quick and easy read that may make you look at the 17th century world in a way that you'll probably never see in another book on the period.
K. Maxwell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Taylor on April 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
History is a messy place.

A lot gets lost, and a lot is saved that would perhaps be better off lost. When looking back on the scrambled fog of the past, people often see only what they want to, and only what they can believe to be true. Unfortunately this means that a lot of what actually happened becomes distorted by the biases of the day. And in the shuffle, it's often the stories of the individuals that are lost, invalidated or claimed to be something they are not.

Luckily, there are those such as actress Myriam Cyr who are willing to work to give a voice to those individual stories that are distorted by the warped mirror of time. In her first book, Letters of a Portuguese Nun, she explores the story of Mariana Alcoforado, a seventeenth century nun who fell in love with a French officer. Gracefully intertwining their individual stories and the cultural events of the time, Cyr takes us on a journey back over three hundred years ago into the heart of a forbidden passion. Against the claims that the 1669 publication of a volume of love letters entitled Portuguese Letters was the fabrication of a (male) French aristocrat, Cyr asserts that the 27 year old nun Mariana was the real author and the letters did, in fact, come from the heart of longing and of loss.

In spite of all the passion and drama of the story, what struck me most in reading the book was the passion of its author. Through the work, the reader can feel the author's irresistible drive to tell the truth as she sees it. A quote from the introduction lingers with me, she writes: "...I thought of the times when, as women, we are not heard, and how after 300 years Mariana, whose words have changed so many lives, is not allowed the most basic of rights, the right to claim her own voice.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By K. Maxwell on December 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Mariana Alcoforado was a Portuguese nun at the end of the 17th century who wrote a series of love letters after her lover, a visiting aristocratic solider, returns to France. The five letters she wrote, full of passion, reproach and sadness at the loss of her love were later published in Paris where they turned into an instant best seller.

The strange thing, in modern eyes, is that at the time nobody could believe a woman had actually written the letters because they were so full of life and so well expressed - and this view continued right into the 20th century.

Myriam Cyr has put the letters back in the context of the times that they were written and in doing so has taken us into the little known world of 17th century Portuguese convents and politics. She has managed to bring alive a world of war, love and letters. This is a genuine mystery that has been clarified in this book. Having said this, the letters themselves don't seem quite as remarkable today but then we have the benefit of a couple of centuries of literature to draw on that the Mariana did not. This book is a quick and easy read that may make you look at the 17th century world in a way that you'll probably never see in another book on the period.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ken Bolden on January 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautifully produced book and a fascinating story. Myriam Cyr relates history with an engaging style that kept me turning pages compulsively. Along side the story of a nun's forbidden love for a French officer, she gives all sorts of interesting facts about life in 17th century Portugal and in the courts and salons of France. Ultimately, she draws a lively portrait of her main subject- a woman who reaches across the centuries and touches our hearts and minds with her potent words and story.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
They were an international bestseller when they were published, five love letters from a devastated woman who had been left by her lover as he went on to military duties. It does not matter that this was more than three hundred years ago; the theme is one that is immediate. The letters were so piercing that immediately a controversy arose over their authorship; no woman could have written them, it was said, because women generally didn't write, never wrote well, and never felt love as deeply as men. The controversy has persisted, and will persist, because there is no proof on either side, but in Letters of a Portuguese Nun: Uncovering the Mystery Behind a 17th Century Forbidden Love (Miramax Books), Miriam Cyr argues the case for authorship by the nun herself. This is Cyr's first book; she has had a successful career as an actress, and first heard of the letters when they were performed as a play. She determined to translate them herself (unaware that they were hugely famous and had been translated many times), and performed them on stage herself. She could not answer questions from those who heard her readings about the authenticity of the letters, but sympathized with a woman who told her the letters expressed her feelings during a painful breakup and was outraged that anyone thought they were fictional. Cyr, probably motivated by the same sort of feeling, did three years of research, and even though her conclusions are not watertight, her advocacy of the nun's authorship is convincing. More importantly, she has brought the heartbreaking letters to a new audience and supplied them with sufficient context to understand their themes.

Mariana Alcoforado was born in 1640 in the picturesque town of Beja, Portugal, and was put in a convent at the age of ten.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Customer Images

Most Recent Customer Reviews


What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?