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Mariette in Ecstasy Paperback – Bargain Price, June 5, 1992
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Into this idyll comes Mariette--young, pretty, devout, but, as her father says, perhaps "too high-strung" for the convent. Prone to "trances, hallucinations, unnatural piety, great extremes of temperament, and, as he put it, 'inner wrenchings,'" Mariette scalds her hands with hot water as penance, threads barbed wire underneath her breasts while she sleeps, and is convinced Jesus speaks to her. Her very glamour disturbs the gentle rhythm of the nuns' lives. But when she begins bleeding from unexplained wounds in her hands, feet, and sides, the convent is thrown into an uproar. Is Mariette a saint? Or just a lying, hysterical girl? Where do we draw the line between madness and faith, mysticism and eroticism, the life of the spirit and that of the world?
It's to Hansen's credit that he never provides easy answers. Mariette's stigmata may or may not be genuine; the novel's achingly gorgeous prose is the true miracle here. Mariette in Ecstasy is a brief, precious book, not a single word in excess, not a single word left out. --Mary Park
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Mariette -- blood sister of the current prioress -- is a very devout girl, given to episodes of ecstacy. Her father, a physician, decribes her as being perhaps 'too highly strung' for a religious calling. She is a naturally beautiful young woman -- and this fact alone arouses a bit of jealousy and suspicion among her sisters-to-be. As her ecstatic experiences increase in both frequency and occurrance, some of these suspicions deepen -- and we can see a veritable wall rise up dividing those in the order who love and adore her, taking her experiences as fact, and those who are certain that she is a charlatan, taking them all for a ride.
Which group is correct? The reader must come to this conclusion in his or her own way -- Hansen tells this story so wonderfully, leaving us to decide. He draws no firm, easy answers for us.Read more ›
The book begins as the lovely, elegant, 17-year-old Mariette enters the convent to begin her probationary/postulant period. She lived nearby with her widowed father, a doctor, and we later learn that her much-older sister is the prioress, Mother Celine. Mariette's father is very much opposed to her becoming a nun. In fact, he has written a letter stating all of the reasons that she is not suitable for convent life.
It seems that Mariette is adapting well to life in the convent until she begins falling into trances and emerges with bleeding wounds (stigmata) on various parts of her body, wounds that cannot be logically explained. The community of nuns becomes divided in their opinion of whether these are signs from God or self-inflicted by Mariette.
In this book, Hansen paints a complete picture of life in the convent and the doubts that assail all people of faith. His characterizations were very well done, in the sparsest of prose, yet in great detail. The book was beautifully and lovingly written and read almost like poetry rather than prose.
"Mariette in Ecstasy" provides an examination of faith and miraculous/divine happenings. Hansen also looks at the way these happenings impact those who are "blessed" by them, as well as how the communities around them are affected. Hansen draws no conclusions, makes no judgments, and attains no closure. This is left up to the reader after closing the book.
It is hard to believe that this is the same author who wrote "Atticus". Both books are excellent, but they are so very different.
I would highly recommend this book.
In this spare novel Ron Hansen succeeds brilliantly at what must surely be one of the most difficult tasks for any writer : he makes the miraculous plausible. In so doing, he raises fascinating questions about how we would react to miracles, were we to witness them, and about why those miracles might occur.
In 1906, seventeen year old Mariette Baptiste enters an upstate New York convent, joining the order of The Sisters of the Crucifixion. Pretty, pious, and personable, she quickly becomes the darling of the place, even though these same traits, and the fact that the Mother Superior is her sister, inspire some jealousy and even forbidden lusts. Since her confirmation, at age thirteen, Mariette has had a calling and has heard the voice of Christ speaking to her, preparing her for some great events. So she, and some of the nuns who love her, are prepared when, upon the death of her sister, Mariette is afflicted with stigmata. But others, particularly those who have resented her anyway, are less willing to accept the miraculous nature of these happenings, suspecting Mariette of an attention-seeking hoax. And when the wounds are healed just as suddenly as they appeared, both sides see this as confirmation of their own, very divergent, beliefs.
Hansen recreates the atmosphere and daily life of the convent in convincing detail.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's so hard to accept the reality of miracles, and even those who believe in miracles -- in this novel -- find it impossible to believe when a miracle stares them in the face. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bruce J. Berger
This book was just not one I enjoyed. It was a step back into a time that I could not relate.Published 1 month ago by Carol
A brilliant evocation of the aspiration of a closed community of nuns in 1906 rural New York State to offer their lives to their God. This is a book to be reread every ten years.Published 4 months ago by James
Completely captivating structure and prose. Give yourself a literary treat!Published 5 months ago by Janie L.
The dialogue amongst the nuns is brutally honest. This took some getting use to but it made sense. Marriette's character was true to the characteristics we give and expect to see... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Luz
Notwithstanding this title, Mariette in Ecstasy is a religiously-sensitive treatment of the tension between secular life, conditions in a convent, and one person's personal... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Estes Park bookworm