Customer Reviews for

Mariette in Ecstasy

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Posted April 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Jem of a Book

    Mariette in Ecstasy begins with short, pithy sentences that read more like poetry than prose. While the scene breaks-switching from traditional dialogue and description to seemingly out of place dialogue and back-are confusing at first, hang in there. It all makes sense by the end. Or at least the style does. The story itself is full of twists and turns, and by the end I wasn't sure what to believe. But that, I think, is the point. Faith and life don't get to be wrapped neatly up in "happily ever after" or "and then everyone died"-like a Shakespearean play; there are always loose-ends, doubts, what-ifs. Hansen plays with assumptions and characters as one might play with clay: molding here, detailing there, cutting pieces away, and adding more. I recommend this book to anyone of any faith or belief, anyone who enjoys good prose and poetry, anyone who simply wants a thought-provoking read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2013

    Perfection

    Meticulous, subtle, exquisite!

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  • Posted April 13, 2009

    "surprisingly compelling"

    Overflowing with vivid imagery and incredible descriptions Mariette in Ecstasy, by Ron Hansen, proves to be an engaging novel. Mariette is a beautiful young girl who believes she was called to follow in the footsteps of her older sister and join a convent. She gives herself completely over to God and is very devout. Despite Mariette's apparent faithfulness because of her teenage tendencies and "high-strung" nature there are speculations on the truthfulness of her claims. Throughout the novel Hansen continually surprises the reader with unexpected outcomes and the outcome is a surprisingly compelling novel.

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  • Posted April 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Poetic Prose and Religion

    Ron Hansen does a tremendous job in this novel. I found myself stopping time and time again, amazed at the beauty of his wording. His poetic descriptions leave an indelible impression as he paints the peaceful and disturbing world of convent life.
    Mariette's story is a confusing one, but one that is thought-provoking as it borders on the miraculous. Once this high-spirited girl enters the convent, the sisters' lives are never the same. Hansen often connects the sacred with the sensual, blurring the line between what is human passion and spiritual ecstasy. Regardless of what one thinks about signs like stigmata and bodily mortification, this book is a beautifully told work about a young woman's passion and growth.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2007

    The Agony and Ecstasy of Mariette

    Hansen's prose-style reads like satin, Haiku or seductive free verse. The plot is so close to Agnes of God, the play, that I found myself struggling with it. 'Ecstacy' both soothes and puzzles but Hansen kept you on the edge of your seat as the cliche goes.Would it turn out to be Agnes of God? It becomes an engrossing whodunnit about the mystery of faith ( and just who dun her) it's not without a little Freudian insight. The final part was truly eerie as Mariette's soul glides between obsessional neurosis slash hysteria or a manifestation of innermost faith. I did feel as if something were omitted, but it just might have to become a twice-read tale of spine-tingling suspense

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2005

    What is Ecstasy?

    Confusing, thought provoking and bare, this novel enlightens the reader almost as much as it confuses. Author Ron Hansen's sparse, semi-poetic style reveals little about individual characters, but provides an outline of how life thrives in a convent, free of idyllic intrusion. The spaced structure of Mariette informs the content by visualizing clean and simple lines, which imply the bareness of a convent. The nuns live simple lives, unadorned and bare, and their status is reflected in the style of Hansen¿s writing. To some it may detract from the ¿quick read¿ it appears to be. But to others the open structure enhances the experience of 'Mariette in Ecstasy'. There are times when the prose is wonderfully descriptive, and other times when it is distressingly vague. It seems the scenery has more of an emphasis than the characters. But perhaps the setting functions as a character in itself, and the descriptions of nature reflect the internal thoughts and hearts of the characters experiencing these various seasons. Winter storms rage, people¿s opinions change, and love comes and goes. The cycle of life and death repeats itself. Some confusing aspects of the novel are the repeated double-entendres and the constant subliminal innuendos. Certain areas of foreshadowing are hard to ignore, such as when Sister Agnes is telling Mariette he rules of the house, which include the following: ¿She should expect, too, that she will be tempted to have particular affection for some of her sisters. Such affections are not permitted. For Jesus Christ ought to be their grandest passion¿¿ (18). Other small things mentioned can be taken either way, and the word ¿ecstasy¿ could mean both sexual passion and inexplicable consumption with the Christ. The conflict between these to is never resolved, and it makes one wonder how far people will go to find their bliss, or to achieve their ultimate ecstasy. The conclusion does not reveal the true character of Mariette, though many things are insinuated. A close, contemplative reading will bring one closer to the true intent of the author, and no doubt have a greater impact on those who seek truth within 'Mariette', besides the intriguing story of a nun filled with uncontrollable and unrequited passion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2005

    Thoughts on the book

    Mariette in Ecstasy is one of the greatest books I¿ve read, even though it was written in an unusual style. A beautiful and intriguing book Ron Hansen narrates through a young nun¿s faith in Jesus. The story has poetic intensity from William Carlos Williams, which pictures cannot describe. Hanson draws beautiful paintings through words. Some of the paragraphs were written in cinematic style, which we see pictures in our minds through what Hanson are describing to us. It was necessary for the author to go with this style to present beautiful images. He uses this technique skillfully and describes wonderful imagery displayed through the novel. Some paragraphs had theological contributions to add flavor to the story. Hanson uses present tense in the novel, which shows current actions taking place at that moment in time. It shows us cinematic settings in its poetry-written style in which Hansen describes his setting and characters. I really like this book on a spiritual and literature level, especially when written in this poetic style. I don¿t find my many books that are written in this style and I am thankful for I have finally found one. This book really shows the struggle between a Catholic nun, trying to have a deep relationship with God, and confront her superiorities. I curiously wanted to know what was going to happen to Mariette, who later in the book gets to meet Jesus when nobody is around. Hanson does a good job writing novels like this and I hope that I will have more time to read his novels in the future.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2005

    Good read but not real monastic life.

    This is a beautifully written poetic exercise in psyco-sexual religious fantasy. Although on the surface the author seems to have done the homework, anyone who has lived the life of monasticsm knows how vividly innacurate a portrayal of religious life this is! A great read, but please know it is fiction not religion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2004

    Gotta wonder

    Without a doubt, Mariette in Ecstasy is good writing but an accurate portrayal of life in a cloistered monastery? No! Not of the 1900's, 1920's,1930's or now. Hansen draws for us a powerful image of Mariette but most of the book is loaded with an undercurrent of a certain errotica. Hansen also drew much of his stuff from the writings of St. Gemma. It's great reading, however. Just remember, it isn't true to life!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2001

    Beautiful Style

    In my opinion 'Mariette in Ecstasy' is so well written that even people who don't care at all for organized religion or spiritual pursuits will still like it. The book is quite short, almost more novella than novel and in style almost more poetry than prose. It's highly evocative and beautiful in describing the winter desolation of a rural convent in 1906. The plot has to do with a young trainee who experiences unusual and controversial spiritual phenomena (which I'd rather not go into).

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    Posted October 31, 2010

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    Posted July 5, 2012

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    Posted January 27, 2011

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    Posted May 25, 2011

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    Posted December 27, 2010

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