Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mariette in Ecstasy

Lately, we have been watching less TV at night. Which mean that Tom spends more time working on his photographs, and I spend more time reading. Since I'm in the position of working on two projects (reworking an old,long monologue and rewriting the first act of a musical) at once that I've finished all the research for, I've been attacking my stack of books. Some of that includes things Tom has recently finished (I think I just finished the fifth Cormac McCarthy novel- an odd story about brother/sister incest), But last night a book I got at the Presbyterian church sale last year. I saw it and thought it was one of those novels I ought to have read, Mariette in Ecstasy by Ron Hansen. Should you have any doubt what kind of ecstasy he's referring to, there's a rendering of Bernini's famous St. Theresa in Ecstasy on the cover.
Twenty pages into the book, I could tell that if Hansen was not a Catholic (I suspect that he is), he has read a great deal of theology. He chooses extremely apt theological passages to be read out to the nuns during their lunch. He's also good at creating the world of the convent- safe, yet with the potential to be stultifying, and the watchfulness of the senior nuns for sin, heresy and particular friendships among their fellow sisters. In many ways the convent of the Sisters of the Crucifixion is a celebration of life and the simplest of pleasures. But all it takes is Mariette, the new postulant, to upset the apple cart.

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