Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mariette in Ecstasy” as Want to Read:
Mariette in Ecstasy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Mariette in Ecstasy

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  1,690 ratings  ·  197 reviews
The highly acclaimed and provocatively rendered story of a young postulant's claim to divine possession and religious ecstasy.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published January 1st 1991 by Harper Perennial
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Mariette in Ecstasy, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Mariette in Ecstasy

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,844)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Mariette in Ecstasy is so well written, reading it is a religious experience. Its exquisite prose is so fine, so beautifully and carefully crafted, so delicate and precise, there's not a single superfluous word. That marks on a page can be transformed from letters to words, words to sentences, sentences to paragraphs, paragraphs to pages, so profoundly, is truly a work of art. That this work of art is in the service of such a sublime subject lifts it above the merely extraordinary into the trans ...more
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
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)
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
Suzanne Fox
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
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
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
Alison McLennan
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
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
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.

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.
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
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
Vienna X
Sep 14, 2007 Vienna X rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who claim they have the marks of stigmata
Shelves: fiction, faves
I felt like throughout the book, there were several lines that were so brilliant and sparse and beautiful. Usually this occurred during the beginning of sections when describing nature or simple movements. He used words to describe in unique ways that were right on point, not confusing or obscure, just crisp and sharp and clear. [“turns over a great slab of dough that rolls as slowly as a white pig” 4, “A nickel light is just above the horizon” 5, “holding grapes like a half-pound of pearls” 38, ...more
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
Brendan Monroe
noun: ecstasy; plural noun: ecstasies; noun: Ecstasy
1. an overwhelming feeling of great happiness or joyful excitement.
"there was a look of ecstasy on his face"
synonyms: rapture, bliss, elation, euphoria, cloud nine, seventh heaven, transports, rhapsodies;
antonyms: misery
2. an emotional or religious frenzy or trance-like state, originally one involving an experience of mystic self-transcendence.
3. an illegal amphetamine-based synthetic drug with euphoric effects, originally produ
The reviews tell me that this is a love it or hate it book. I agree.

What I loved: 1. Hansen's writing style; it's not a typical novel; he uses short bursts of language; some of these bursts are sentences but some are not; it somehow worked for me as it transported me to the simple, quiet life in the monastery. 2. The plot or lack thereof; it kind of goes in order as it tells a story; but it doesn't as it goes back and forth between what is happening and the inquiry into the events; this seemed
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.
Jan 11, 2010 Fitz rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: faves
I can't say I've liked Mr. Hansen's other work so much, but this book rings with a lyricism that is rare, so perhaps one novel of this caliber in a person's lifetime is enough. Some passages read like poetry, and there is an intimacy in the tone that draws the reader in. Please don't think you wouldn't want to read a book about nuns! Give it a chance and you'll likely be happy you did.
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.
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.
I happily gave this book four stars so you may be surprised to know that I hated reading it -- but loved thinking about it -- does that make sense? First thing I didn't like was the writing structure. It has been described by others as "poetic" (yuck!) which in this case means the author encircled what was otherwise an interesting story with choppy little sentences/paragraphs that described the "outside" world vs the interior world of the convent. The other thing I didn't like was the chapter ti ...more
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!
Excellent short novel exploring the lives of a group of cloistered nuns and their reactions when a young novice experiences stigmata. Fascinating.
I haven't encountered fiction in this kind of snapshot-style of narration. It was like reading a documentary that relies heavily on silent vignettes to make introductions and transitions in its story. The images chosen are clues as well as setting, and the withholding of reasons for their inclusion helped me become involved with the place and the women they described. I wasn't served up a story; I had to pay attention to its happening.

I finished the book in a little over five weeks, reading abo
Karen Wyle
I wasn't sure what to make of this novel. There are many interesting glimpses of the lives of the nuns and other residents of this convent, but the author sometimes seems detached from them, and a few times almost contemptuous. The story arc is semi-resolved in a way familiar in literary fiction -- so whether it satisfies the reader will depend on how much the reader enjoys such fiction. The language is self-consciously poetic to an intrusive degree: I often had to stop and puzzle over a phrase ...more
Sep 22, 2009 §-- rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: novel
A mixed bag. I found the ending frustrating, not satisfying at all, though that may be the point of it, that certainty eludes us as long as we are on Earth. Hansen avoids the foreseeable ending (the Scooby Doo one where Mariette takes the mask off and it becomes obvious that the whole thing is a hoax). Instead, he gives us reasons to believe and reasons to doubt, making the whole experience much more interesting.

The prose, though praised by many smarter people than me, I find difficult. Half the
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 94 95 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Mr. Blue
  • The Diary of a Country Priest
  • Teresa of Avila: The Progress of a Soul
  • Lying Awake
  • Prayer
  • With God in Russia
  • In This House of Brede
  • Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium - An Interview With Peter Seewald
  • The God Stealer and Other Stories
  • Prayer Primer: Igniting a Fire Within
  • 7 Secrets of Confession
  • Uniformity with God's Will
  • Life Is Worth Living
  • Saint Francis of Assisi
  • The Sacrament of the Present Moment
  • Poustinia: Encountering God in Silence, Solitude and Prayer (Madonna House Classics Vol.1)
  • This Tremendous Lover
  • Scandalous Risks
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
More about Ron Hansen...
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Atticus Hitler's Niece A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion You've Got to Read This: Contemporary American Writers Introduce Stories that Held Them in Awe

Share This Book

“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.” 9 likes
More quotes…