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Mariette in Ecstasy

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  1,953 Ratings  ·  223 Reviews
The highly acclaimed and provocatively rendered story of a young postulant's claim to divine possession and religious ecstasy.
Paperback, 180 pages
Published January 1st 1991 by Harper Perennial
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(showing 1-30)
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Dec 18, 2007 Rob rated it did not like it
What a disappointment. I slogged through the present-tense narration (a huge pet peeve of mine), the incomplete sentences, the lifeless dialogue, and the thin plot, waiting for revelation or insight or... heck, anything to surface. Nothing did. No character development, no plot development, no meat. If only the author had chosen to develop his story instead of just the “voice” of the piece, he might have created something magical, because there’s a potentially great and moving novel buried at th ...more
Suzanne Fox
Dec 21, 2013 Suzanne Fox rated it it was amazing
It's my belief that very varied reviews, by readers and professional critics, are sometimes signs that something really interesting is going on--that an author has taken a real risk, made a really strong commitment to a particular style, story, strategy. Such is the case here. Folks will, and do, have strong reactions in both directions to the sparseness of the prose, the emphasis on imagery, and of course the author's refusal to answer the novel's most obvious question, the legitimacy (if one c ...more
Mar 10, 2013 JFN rated it did not like it
A few weeks ago I was walking on my street and came upon a book sale on a neighbor's stoop. It was surprising what they were unloading -- not the usual unpopular, unloved cast offs but stuff you'd actually heard of and would want to own -- and all at a gleeful, hands-rubbing-together 25 cents a pop. Crazy.

Impressed with the collection, I got to talking about books with the neighbors, a couple who were moving to the west coast where they are both planning to pursue PhDs in lit. A few minutes into
Nancy (NE)
Nov 13, 2011 Nancy (NE) rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
As another reviewer put it, "spare, lyrical and devotional." The story of Mariette, postulant in a convent in upstate New York at the turn of the century, progresses through the liturgical year. The stark, descriptive prose gave me an almost visceral feel for the rural locale. Mariette brings an innocent ferver to her prayer life and that of the order, until she begins having trances or ecstasies followed by stigmata that heal almost as spontaneously as they appear. This eventually causes divisi ...more
Incredible story. I'm still not sure if I can write a review of it as I just finished it less than an hour ago. It's the kind of book I would have LOVED to have read in a devout Catholic book group, but only a prayerful group of practicing Catholics who actually live what they believe.

But then on further reflection, I try to imagine really discussing the book in a group setting and I think it would ruin it. It's such a deeply personal book, as is Mariette's experience in the story and yours whe
Virginia Boecker
Jun 12, 2016 Virginia Boecker rated it it was amazing
Easily one of the most gorgeous books I've ever read.
Sep 14, 2016 Pamela rated it really liked it

A beautifully written book, which explores the deep connection between a young postulant and her faith. It is written in a rather minimalist style evoking through its use of language, a true sense of convent life. A deep and touching exploration of religious fervour and the social issues that come with cloistered life.
May 23, 2008 Padraic rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-and-loved
Jinkies! Nun so black!

Well, if you can write as well about nuns and Jesse James, you're already one hell of an author. I would probably read Hansen's shopping lists.
Barbara Ellison
I'm reading the six "reviews" below and shaking my head in absolute disbelief--"intriguing" and "well-written" are not terms that you can apply to this thin slice of prose disguised as a novel. There is very little narrative flow to this book as it is written as a sequence of short bursts of unrelated information almost like a draft outline a writer would use to help guide him to write a work of more complexity. But if you wanted to allow for this format being the "novel" idea, then what is writ ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
One and a half stars for this book which does an incredible job of hiding bricks under hats. The choppy, telegraphic writing "style" (inverted commas intended) makes it seem more like an aborted screenplay; in fact I first thought that was what it was. The book resonates heavily with other, earlier works by other authors: think The Nun's Story (from which two scenes are lifted, practically entire), think Agnes of God, think Extramuros, and certainly many phrases, events and even names taken from ...more
Alison McLennan
Oct 12, 2012 Alison McLennan rated it liked it
I love the diversity of reviews. At the risk of sounding wishy-washy I understand and agree with the perspective of both the lowest and the highest of ratings. The reason I read this book is because it is on a list of must reads for my MFA program. Hansen breaks conventions. All through the book I wondered why it was written in present tense. Many of his descriptions just totally lost me. Yet others created movement and life so lyrical the words created a strange routine-like movement that broug ...more
Feb 04, 2011 Adam rated it really liked it
Shelves: elegance, minimalism
I’m tempted to call this story a spiritual mystery novel, but Hansen allows the central question of Mariette Baptiste’s stigmatic experiences to remain an enigma, without explanation or explicit verification. And this is how it should be. Hansen’s prose here is simply a delight: spare, lyrical, and devotional. With the novel’s subject matter and quiet, measured pacing, it’s certainly a book that requires the reader to be in the “right mood” to appreciate it, but, that said, it is truly a fine pi ...more
Nov 13, 2007 eb rated it really liked it
Hanson writes like an angel. I'm not sure why, but this felt like it should be a 400-page epic with multiple plot strands, rather than a slim novella.
Alika Yarnell
Jul 28, 2016 Alika Yarnell rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who claim they have the marks of stigmata
Shelves: fiction, faves
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 23, 2014 Christine rated it really liked it
Thanks for recommending this Conrad. <3

It is rather hard to describe this book as is often the case with books that go rather more deep than their obvious story line. Mariette has entered the convent of Our Lady of Sorrows to become a nun. The ecstasy she is in is the ecstasy of the divine. I had to look up ecstasy for my own sake so I'll share it here. "a trance like state in which a person transcends normal consciousness." The story gives you many opportunities to look at the divine in diff
M.G. Bianco
Oct 31, 2011 M.G. Bianco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This was a very interesting book. I'd never heard of either the book or the author, until it was mentioned in another book I was reading, Beauty Will Save the World: Recovering the Human in an Ideological Age.

Mariette is a young girl who joins a monastery to become a nun. While there she experiences the stigmata. The question of whether she actually experiences stigmata isn't necessarily resolved. What is most interesting about the book is how the different residents of the monastery react to he
Jun 29, 2015 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The real mystery here is, how did Ron Hansen manage to capture such a detailed and realistic view of life in an upstate New York cloistered convent without actually living in one? The book is full of rich, subtle and superb description. If you read this book you will feel like you are actually living in this convent, a life of sparcity surrounded by the exquisite beauty of nature where life is framed the changing seasons and country chores, hoot owls, crickets, duty, prayer, silence and song.

Jun 20, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it
A convent (it is in upstate New York, not far from my home town, but one hundred years back in time - I cannot go there). A postulant. Stigmata. Stigmata? Or a cruel deception?

This story is written through the Canonical hours and through the liturgical year, weaving daily rhythms into the annual pattern. The overall cloth is shot through with golden threads of sacrament and worship; it is tattered and torn by human sin.

In the end I think it is a story about the deeply personal nature of faith;
okay -- well-written, attention grabbed and held. I loved the way the events are embedded in the daily reading, celebrations of masses for holidays and saints and so on and yet the interrogations and the talks with Mariette are also laced between these various bits and it is easy to lose the threads -- which I believe may well-be part of the point as the ending is ambiguous enough for multiple interpretations of what actually unfolded throughout this well-told tale. Excellent reading. I found my ...more
Apr 14, 2015 verbava rated it liked it
Shelves: catholique
історія про стару як світ проблему: як розпізнати автентичний містичний досвід? як зрозуміти, що він від бога, а не від диявола? (візьмемо за замовчуванням віру в те, що автентичний містичний досвід існує). іноді, каже ця книжка й підтверджує вчення церкви, варто перестрахуватися; господь своїх упізнає все одно, а вразливі душі вірних заслуговують того, щоб захистити їх від імовірної помилки.
цікавий факт: стигмати найчастіше з'являються в жінок.
Crysti Perry
Oct 10, 2016 Crysti Perry rated it it was ok
Hmmmm.............. the beginning and the ending confused me. I was intrigued by the middle. I'm not Catholic, so, maybe I would have enjoyed it more had I understood a lot of the terminology. I constantly had to Google something to see what it meant. That doesn't make for a pleasurable reading experience.

This wasn't a BAD book; I just didn't understand most of it.
Aug 17, 2007 K rated it really liked it
Beautiful writing, kind of an interesting and ambiguous story. I'm not sure I really got it. Having read "Through the Narrow Gate," though, it was interesting to read a fictional story that took place in a pre-Vatican II convent.
Jun 07, 2012 Keija rated it really liked it
Strange, indelible book. Very distant POV, but it worked marvelously for this mysterious story. The start of each chapter reads and is structured like a poem, which I adored. The ending's kind of a bust, but endings are hard, and the strength of the rest of the work more than makes up for it.
Dec 26, 2015 Jessica rated it it was amazing
One of the most beautifully written things I've read this year. The creepy, unsettling story of a nun in all her religious fervor captivated me immensely and, at times, overwhelmingly. Such intense lyrical prose and fascinating glimpses into the way of the priory.
Oct 22, 2007 Joanna rated it it was amazing
Excellent short novel exploring the lives of a group of cloistered nuns and their reactions when a young novice experiences stigmata. Fascinating.
May 09, 2008 Louise added it
I love lush language, always have. The premise of this one (a young girl who experiences stigmata) gives Hansen permission to be excessive, delirious, and very, very beautiful!
Kent Winward
Jan 06, 2017 Kent Winward rated it really liked it
This is a unique novel. I read it over a month ago and it is still sticking with me. The style and the themes keep echoing back as I look back on the book. The fact that Hansen was able to pull that off is an impressive piece of writing.
Oct 25, 2016 Leah rated it really liked it
Sensual, gorgeous, reads like a series of linked poems.
Jenna St Hilaire
Apr 17, 2013 Jenna St Hilaire rated it liked it
It is sometimes said that good novels should make the reader uncomfortable. For various reasons I've never quite bought into that statement, particularly because there are a lot of less-than-profitable means of making people uncomfortable--some of them silly and vain, and some of them outright dangerous. This short, easy read is not silly or vain, but it is potentially dangerous. Whether that comment is praise or censure may be left to the reader to determine.

I would not recommend the book to Pr
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Hansen was born in Omaha, Nebraska, attended a Jesuit high school, Creighton Preparatory School and earned a Bachelor's degree in English from Creighton University in Omaha in 1970. Following military service, he earned an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1974 and held a Wallace Stegner Creative Writing Fellowship at Stanford University. He later earned an M.A. in Spirituality from Santa ...more
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“We try to be formed and held and kept by him, but instead he offers us freedom. And now when I try to know his will, his kindness floods me, his great love overwhelms me, and I hear him whisper, Surprise me.” 10 likes
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