Mariette in Ecstasy by Ron Hansen

Mariette in Ecstasy by Ron HansenSummary: A young nun experiences the stigmata in a 1906 upstate New York convent.

I do not remember where I was reading, but at some point earlier this year I ran across a blog post that was asking for authors that are normally considered literary fiction, but often write with religious themes.

Many of the comments were people that I was aware of, Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, Susan Howatch’s Church of England series, Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, etc. But one of the names I had not heard of before, Ron Hansen.  I had heard of a his book The Assassination of Jesse James (which has been made into a movie) but not any of his other books.

So I picked up Mariette in Ecstasy when it was on sale for audiobook (currently on sale for kindle) but it took me a while to actually start it.

The idea is interesting, what would happen when a relatively modern woman receives the gift of the stigmata (the marks of Christ that St Francis and other saints have received). But the execution of the book is so odd that I am quite put off.

I have read spare books before.  Cormac McCarthy is spare.  Mariette in Ecstasy is down right sparse.  There are sections that are mostly just phrases grouped together without any verbs.  Mostly when describing a scene.  But it is not only scene descriptions that are sparse, it is the dialogue and storyline as well.  I keep feeling like there are missing pages.  As I glanced through other reviews, it seems that quite a number of people have looked through their book assuming that pages had been ripped out.

I nearly stopped reading several times because I was either bored or irritated with the book.  I am glad I finished (the ending was good), but I have a hard time recommending the book.  There are sparks where there is an interesting question or quote.  But so much of it is just odd.

This is a book where I fear I may not be smart enough to ‘get it.’  Because there are lots of 5 star reviews, several from some very smart people that I respect.  But I didn’t get it.

Mariette in Ecstacy Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook (Audiobook is discounted to $2.99 with purchase of Kindle Book) 

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