Monday, January 21, 2008

Our Lady of the Lost and Found: a novel of Mary, Faith, and Friendship

I haven't been very happy with the selection of new novels at my library (or perhaps it's that I've already read everything I wanted to from those shelves), so this past week I've turned to the older stacks for reading material.
This title jumped out at me, but I've never before read anything by Schoemperlen (Forms of Devotion, In the Language of Love, Hockey Night in Canada and Other Stories, The Man of My Dreams, Frogs and Other Stories, and Double Exposures).

Like the author, the protagonist is a lady author living outside Toronto, Canada. The story begins when, after a few curious coincidences, Mary (the mother of God) comes to the woman's house and asks if she can stay there for the week.

--I need a place to stay for a week, she said.
--Here? I croaked. You want to stay here?
--Yes, she said. I am so tired. I need a break.
She brushed the stray curls back from her forehead and sighed...Her face faltered in the sunlight and I could see it then around her eyes, in the lines on her forehead and on either side of her mouth. I could see that fatigue all women of a certain age are prone to, that bone-deep weariness that can only be caused by life itself.
The only promise she extorts from the author is that she not write about this experience as fact, but that she temper the book with the statement: "This is a work of fiction." Throughout the week, they go through the routines of making meals, washing dishes, reading the newspaper, and talking with each other. A large majority of the book is a recounting of the Mary sightings and miracles over two millennia, though it's hard to tell who has inserted them into the narrative, Mary or the author. While these are interesting, their placement in the story is only a distraction to the plot, not adding anything to the novel except pages.

I would reread sections of this book again and again; some of it has echoes of Kathleen Norris's uplifting spirituality mixed with Ann Morrow Lindbergh-like practicalities of the everyday interactions with God. I like the details of the author's descriptions; I find myself folding down pages just because I like how she captures a time or a mood in a paragraph.


Titianlibrarian said...

page 283:
When I was in my twenties, I put my faith in love, I was a product of my place and time, a middle-class girl who had been led to believe that romantic love was the most important thing in the world. I saw no reason to question this received wisdom, no reason to doubt that I would eventually find it. When I was in my twenties, I thought I had all the time in the world to get it right.
I had several relationships in those years, each of them short, exciting, and doomed. I was an old hand at obsession. I always had to have some man's name in my head like a chant, an incantation, a constant tintinnabulation, the subtext beneath everything I said and did, a one- or two-note song I sang silently to myself in bed at night even when the man in question was right there beside me, sweaty and snoring and hogging the blankets. It is only in retrospect that I understand that obsession has nothing to do with love and everything to do with anxiety, insecurity, uncertainty, and fear.

Faith said...

I enjoy your comments on different selections. Can't find this one in my library system. Too bad - the excerpt is intriguing. Faith