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Mariette in Ecstasy
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Mariette in Ecstasy

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  2,193 Ratings  ·  248 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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Will Byrnes
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mariette is a strange, beautiful young (20) woman who has just entered a convent, the second daughter of a wealthy doctor to enter that order, to dad's chagrin. There is the cut and paste of varying timelines, as we jump back and forth between a later interview with and about her, juxtaposed with earlier events as they unfold. The writing is lush, incorporating rich color set against a plain background, scents permeate the senses. A splash of red on the young woman's bathrobe offers the merest h ...more
Dec 18, 2007 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 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
Jun 20, 2011 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 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
Pamela ✨I Blame Wizards✨
Oct 12, 2012 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 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 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 rated it really liked it
Shelves: minimalism, elegance
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 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.
Douglas Dalrymple
Jul 11, 2017 rated it liked it
There’s an old friction in Christianity between the longing for mystical experience and the keep-your-head-down plodding work of the humble, devotional life. Hansen’s book succeeds best when he keeps to this theme, exploring the jealousies and factionalism that erupt at an upstate New York convent when a teenage postulant suffers a series of increasingly intense mystical experiences.

Unfortunately, Mariette in Ecstasy also suffers from a bad case of what I like to call “Writer’s-Workshopitis.” I
Jun 07, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who likes semi-erotic religious literature involving a 17-year old
Recommended to Brian by: Fr. Mark Bosco, S.J.
I picked this up off my bookshelf at home when I visiting the parents last weekend. I read it as part of a theology in literature seminar in college, and after including it on my independent book list for my juniors this year, I thought I'd give it another go, remembering it moves along very crisply. Besides, I didn't want to be "that" guy, you know, the guy without a little religious ecstasy on the summer book list. I will admit a bit of anxiety reading this book at lunch today, waiting for som ...more
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an absolutely gorgeously written book, with a magnificent ambiguous ending . True miracle or psychosomatic or even fraudulent yearning for connection to God/a greater spiritual presence/a community of like-minded? For both the religious or non-religious I would think, it raises interesting questions about the role of mystery in our lives and culture. This is one you continue to appreciate more and more after finishing it.
Alika Yarnell
Sep 14, 2007 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.
Matt Bianco
Oct 31, 2011 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 26, 2015 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 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
Oct 11, 2014 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.
Jan 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Crysti Perry
Oct 10, 2016 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 16, 2007 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 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 13, 2015 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.
Sep 28, 2007 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.
Nicholas Montemarano
May 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Sentence by sentence a stunning novel—a tight 179 pages, not a word wasted. A cliffhanger written in language that would fill most poets with holy envy.
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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.” 11 likes
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