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.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.
--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.
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.