Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Book: Mariana

by Katherine Vaz (2004).

I love you. I love you still. I love you always. I esteem every joy and every sorrow that your love bestows upon me.

Katherine Vaz is a favorite, and her writing never fails to make me cry. The depth of my love for her work is such that I can't even write about why I feel it. She weaves together grand ideas and tiny everyday details, creates ritual out of every movement, and always touches something unnameable inside me.

This was the first novel of hers I've read. Her short stories are so well-crafted they open out like full-length works in my mind. Here, Vaz has much more going on, and for the most part she manages it well. The book lagged a bit in the middle, but picked back up and packed quite a punch at the end.

I also loved the authors note at the end, about Vaz's research and her belief that Mariana herself wrote the famous letters. I had never heard of Mariana Alcoforado before, but if time allows in the future, I would love to learn more about her and monastic life in Portugal.

Spark has an interesting interview with Vaz.

Margin profiles Vaz (including links to excerpts from her writing).

Google Books presents a full copy of The Letters of a Portuguese Nun, translated by Edgar Prestage.

Myriam Cyr has written a non-fiction book arguing that Mariana did indeed write the famous letters.

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