On Wednesday, Catholic Radio International (CRI) began its presentation on Ron Hansen’s highly praised novel, Mariette in Ecstasy, on its Cover-to-Cover show. The book is being read by CRI’s Joseph O’Brien.
The novel centers around Mariette, a young woman in 1906 upstate New York who joins the Sisters of the Crucifixion. After entering, she exhibits unusual behavior, including trances, moments of ecstasy, and extreme penances.
This intense emotion is foreign to the convent, and when the wounds of Christ appear on her hands, feet and side, the sisters are split about whether her experiences are genuine or simply a ploy for attention.
Although this question remains unanswered at the conclusion of the novel, Mariette in Ecstasy has been critically acclaimed by its reviewers, praised for both its language and the lessons it contains. Aquinas Books observes, "Mariette's stigmata may or may not be genuine; the novel's achingly gorgeous prose is the true miracle here. Mariette in Ecstasy is a brief, precious book, not a single word in excess, not a single word left out."
Ron Hansen, the book’s author, is a professor of literature at Santa Clara University in California. His other books include Hitler’s Niece, Atticus (which will also be read on Cover to Cover), and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, which became well-known when it was made into a major motion picture starring Brad Pitt in 2007. Hansen’s latest work is Exiles, published in 2008.
Mariette in Ecstasy was recently made into a play and received excellent reviews at Chicago’s Lifeline Theatre.