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Letters of a Portuguese Nun: Uncovering the Mystery Behind a 17th Century Forbidden Love

3.4  ·  Rating Details ·  138 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
In 1669, a Parisian bookseller published a slim volume called Portuguese Letters, which unveiled a love affair between a young Portuguese nun and a French officer that had occurred a few years earlier during a war-torn period in Portugal. The book contained passionate love letters from the nun when the officer was forced to return to France.The letters took Paris by storm. ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 14th 2007 by Miramax Books (first published 2006)
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Oct 11, 2009 Marla rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't know where to begin. Short book you can finish in one setting. It should have been titled "I Hate You, Don't Leave Me". It is NOT a mystery and NOT about love. This is a good history book. Then it includes the 5 supposedly authentic "love" letters written by the nun Mariana. I saw no evidence of "love"...obsession, neediness, possessiveness, clinginess, craziness, psycho behavior...yes, love no.

The thing I learned from this book is that women have always been the same, even 350 years ago
Scandal. War-time nun on French captain romance inside the convent walls. A fresh look at 17th century, tumultuous Portugal and some of the most famous (for the time) love letters, widely published in several languages, that come on the heels of illicit romance. Smart, spunky nun gets to know dashing, hunky French army captain when the French come in to aid Portugal during the civil war. The hook up on...wait for it...The Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Dashing, hunky French captain returns ...more
Dec 14, 2009 Alexandra rated it really liked it
this was such a fanstastic read. I found it so interesting. A good film maker could make this one heck of a romantic movie
Othón León
Nov 14, 2012 Othón León rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
A masterpiece by Myriam Cyr...

"It may be you will find greater beauty, but NEVER will you find such love, and all the rest is nothing"... such are the words written by 26 years old Mariana Alcoforado in a first letter -as she was a shut nun in 1665 Portugal- to her recently lost lover, a kind of misteryous, tall, intelligent, handsome and passionate french officer (monsieur Chamilly) who's destiny brought him to the scene of a local civil warfare thet involved stationed troops and a few times ro
I enjoyed this story of Mariana Alcoforado, the Portuguese Nun; of her lover, Chamilly; and of the history of the area. I picked up this book from our local library never having heard anything about the book published in 1669 by a Parisian Bookseller - but it was about a book, so how could I resist?

Myriam Cyr puts forth that argument with research and logic that Mariana is the true author of "The Letters of a Portuguese Nun". Ms. Cyr does a good job of explaining about the history of Portugal d
I initially picked up the book thinking it would have an introduction covering the background and history of the period surrounding the letters, with the majority of the text being the actually letters. Much to my surprise, it was quite the reverse. The history of the period and mystery surrounding the letters was nicely explained to the level of those who are not a fan of reading about history (or herstory). The letters did take me back to times when I have felt used and rejected by those I tho ...more
Aug 09, 2010 Fionnuala rated it it was ok
The seventeenth century smash hit Letters of a Portuguese Nun was one of those works I half thought I'd read but never actually picked up (Don Quixote's another one). The letters themselves are shocking, raw and sensational - I see why simply everyone at Louis XIV's court had to have an opinion on them. The force of a woman's rage against not just an individual man but the system that gives him all the freedoms she desires burn through the centuries, and can't have made for comfortable reading a ...more
Jul 22, 2011 Patricia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I am so angry at myself when I think of all I sacrificed for you: I have lost my reputation, I exposed myself to my family's fury, to the severity of this country's laws against nuns, moreover to your ingratitude, which seems to me to be the greatest of my woes. And yet, I can see that my remorse is not real, that in earnest, I would have liked, for love of you, to have encountered greater dangers...

Imagine. A real-life love affair between a nun and a soldier in the 1600s with civil war as backd
Sep 25, 2008 Adleen rated it it was ok
What I learned from this book, in 200 words or fewer:

Once more the Fergus bookstore provides, this time with a tome on Les lettrs portugaises, which I'd heard about but never actually read. Anyways, this is Cyr's attempt to solve the mystery of the letters' original authorship. It's not terrible, altho. the writing is sloppy in places. At one point, Cyr briefly delves into some research on how publication functioned in Ancien Regime France, which is a good idea, but not too deeply developed. Ove
Jan 18, 2016 Veldi rated it liked it
Shelves: love-story
It is well-written, but with all the items in the long bibliography list it just could not justify its criteria that the letters were really penned by the Portuguese nun; you just cannot take two people from history and say, well here, look- time fits gender fits place fits and it must be true. Or we can say "The other Boleyn girl" is a Hampton Court royal record. It will be beautiful and terrific if Miss Cyr can keep it a fictional historial romance, rather than a research report attempted to p ...more
Apr 21, 2007 mary rated it it was ok
i wanted this to be a heartwrenching tale of unrequited love that only a lovesick nun could tell. instead there was a lot of backstory about the nun and her lover that had more to do with the war than their forbidden relationship. it was, at best, a "nice" account of a scandalous affair that NO ONE actually had specifics on. the best writing was the letters themselves, which the author gave so much lead up to that i was expecting to see a drumroll typed out before i turned to them on the next pa ...more
Feb 15, 2014 Jami rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
Cyr provides interesting historical context to the Letters from a Portuguese Nun. Her theory is well researched, but I wish there was more focus on the romance. She also seems to be very forgiving of Chamily and his abandonment of Mariana.
I appreciate that she included the letters. The letters themselves are heart wrenching, especially with the knowledge that Mariana could never find live again. The sentiments she expresses of betrayal and desperation transcend time.
Lisa Corathers
Jun 30, 2011 Lisa Corathers rated it it was ok
I was disappointed with this book, although the letters reportedly written by the nun Marianna to her French lover, Chamilly, were very poignant indeed. (I say reportedly, as there are still scholarly questions as to who actually authored them. I, for one, see no reason to think Marianna didn't write them.)
Feb 28, 2014 Olivia rated it liked it
The letters in this book are a must-read; the book itself is a very basic introduction to the letters and their historical context. While I enjoyed this book, I see it as a good starting point for learning more about the period and the lives of Portuguese nuns...which I had had no idea were so fascinating!
Nov 10, 2007 Sue rated it it was ok
I found the book very interesting, but can say it's probably not for everyone. The mystique built up around the letters is far more intriguing than the actual content of the letters. Basically, when I read them my thought was "OK, this guy dumped you, get over it!". Still, the history in the book is interesting and I do recommend it if you're clear up front that it's no magic story.
Mar 21, 2013 LuAnn rated it it was ok
This was a fascinating look at one iota of history. I found it quite compelling, although I wish more of the book had actually dealt with the romance itself rather than some of the dry historical facts of the day.
Apr 17, 2007 Jenna rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: DaVinci Code fans
Not exactly what I was expecting, I thought it was going to be more like the actual letters. Instead author paints an interesting story about who this nun could have been and what the motives behind the letters were. Great read, quick and interesting
Susan Chapek
Dec 27, 2015 Susan Chapek rated it really liked it
Grateful to Myriam Cyr for making the Letters readily available in English, and for providing the background and research on an obscure but fascinating and significant episode in literary (as well as literal) history.

May 20, 2013 Sara rated it liked it
While I did enjoy the letters more than anything, I did not enjoy the dry historical facts. Though they helped me understand the background of the letters, sometimes they were full of too much information.
Genie Searcy
Aug 14, 2008 Genie Searcy rated it really liked it
tenderly touching. a lot of lead up to the letters. however, i didn't mind the historical info a bit.
Jun 07, 2009 Nezka rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting narrative history ... author makes a compelling argument for the identity of the nun, and the nun's love letters are very moving.
Jul 13, 2016 Larae rated it really liked it
Fascinating book!
Mariana Alcoforado fascinates me! I wish there were more books about her.
Apr 30, 2012 Fredrika rated it it was amazing
I liked this edition because Cyr included the back story and her reasoning for believing the letters to be real. The letters will break your heart.
Dagbjört Ásgeirsdóttir
I liked the scenery, place and time in history and the characters, but I only made it to the middle of the story.
Eric rated it liked it
May 31, 2009
Karen rated it really liked it
Jun 03, 2014
Nina rated it liked it
Jul 14, 2010
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Oct 14, 2010
Jeannine rated it liked it
Jan 04, 2012
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