AudioBook Review: The Patron Saint of Ugly by Marie Manilla

AudioBook Review:

A bit of a mixed review on this one I’m afraid: there were just too many characters that devolved into stereotypes for me to find them all believable or sympathetic, although personalities and actions become stereotypical for a reason – they resonate strongly with those who encounter them.

Marie Manilla is telling the story of Garnet Ferrari as she introduces us to her life story, trials and tribulations as the “different one” in her rather unusual family.  A child born in West Virginia with flame-red hair and port-wine birthmarks that resemble a map of the world all over her body, Garnet was mercilessly teased and set apart from others in the community, and even within her family.  A talent for healing has her grandmother’s praising and revering her as a mythical saint long gone, but to others she is different and just a little outside of their comfort zone.

Garnet’s story is really her search to debunk her ‘powers’, as she searches for what she truly wants and believes, she is presenting us with a story and history of the people important to her, and their reactions and interactions that brought her to now.  Hopeful and full of hidden desires, Garnet carefully defines and describes the scenes and settings as she experienced them. While many of the behaviors and characters do take on a stereotypical tone – it is only in hindsight that you discover you are wanting more depth and reason for their behavior.

Narration in this book is provided by Laura Hicks, and she presented the characters and events with a smooth and clearly enunciated style, managing to avoid over-reaching in tone, tenor or over-arching emotive emphasis, keeping the characters distinct but not jarring in their depiction.
Her narration complements the story, and doesn’t lead the reader to conclusions or insights of the characters beyond the author’s intent.

An interesting mix of southern charm, mystical realism, literary and historical fiction, this story travels from the1920’s through the 1970’s, and moves from quiet revelations to repairing damage from a tragedy that rocked the family foundations for years. Full of hope, humor and some striking revelations about one’s ability to define a place in the world.

Stars:  Overall: 4 Narration: 4 Story: 4

AudioBook Review: The Patron Saint of Ugly by Marie Manilla

Title: The Patron Saint of Ugly
Author: Marie Manilla
Genre: Literary Fiction
Narrator: Laura Hicks
Published by: Blackstone Audio
Source: AudioBook Jukebox
Pages: 352
Audio Length: 13 Hours: 24 minutes
Rated: four-stars
Get Your Copy: Amazon AllRomance iTunes Downpour IndieBound
See this Title on Goodreads

Born in Sweetwater, West Virginia, with a mop of flaming red hair and a map of the world rendered in port-wine stains on every surface of her body, Garnet Ferrari is used to being an outcast. With her sharp tongue, she has always known how to defend herself against bullies and aggressors, but she finds she is less adept at fending off the pilgrims who have set up a veritable tent city outside her hilltop home, convinced that she is Saint Garnet, healer of skin ailments and maker of miracles.

Her grandmother, the indelible Nonna Diamante, believes that Garnet’s mystical gift can be traced back to the family’s origins in the Nebrodi Mountains of Sicily, and now the Vatican has sent an emissary to Sweetwater to investigate. Garnet, wanting nothing more than to debunk this “gift” and send these desperate souls packing, reaches back into her family’s tangled past and unspools for the Church a tale of love triangles on the shores of the Messina Strait; a sad, beautiful maiden’s gilded-cage childhood in blueblood Virginia; and the angelic, doomed boy Garnet could not protect.

Saint or not, Garnet learns that the line between reality and myth is always blurred, and that the aspects of ourselves we are most ashamed of can prove to be the source of our greatest strength, and even our salvation.

A copy of this title was provided via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About Marie Manilla

Marie Manilla is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her fiction has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Prairie Schooner, Mississippi Review, and other journals. Her novels include The Patron Saint of Ugly (2014), and Shrapnel (2012), which won the Fred Bonnie Award for Best First Novel. Still Life with Plums: Short Stories (2010), was a finalist for both the Weatherford Award and ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year.

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