The Patron Saint of Ugly
Ms. Hen happened to buy this novel because she read a short story by the author in one of the online journals she reads, THE NEW ENGAGEMENT. She wanted to see what else the author had written, so she looked her up, and she was intrigued by the title of this novel, so she bought it.
Ms. Hen thinks there are not enough words to describe how much she enjoyed THE PATRON SAINT OF UGLY. It’s not just the story of Garnet, the birthmark covered would-be saint, or the family that surrounds her that Ms. Hen loved. It’s the joy in the writing, which makes this book a pleasure to read. Even in its saddest moments, this story is filled with happiness, and the hope that there could be a saint somewhere to cure people of their ailments; the hope that there could possibly be a God who loves the world enough that he will take all the bad things away and bring beauty to us all.
This novel is about Garnet Ferrari’s life, told mostly through letters to a representative of the Vatican who is attempting to prove that Garnet is a saint. She goes through her childhood growing up covered with birthmarks displaying a map of the world. All over her body, different countries appear. Nonna Ferrari thinks this happened because her other grandmother brought the grandfather’s globe collection to Garnet’s parent’s house and her mother’s proximity to the globes before she was born brought out her birthmarks.
Even though Garnet is considered ugly by most people, she does not let that get her down. She is a feisty, headstrong young girl, and becomes the same type of woman. She is not afraid to tell the truth, and she is not afraid of speaking her mind. But she is afraid of her father, and is afraid of going outside to meet the pilgrims who come to her house to be healed.
Ms. Hen thinks this novel is a beautiful story of the love of family, especially women in a family, and it’s bursting with humor and magic. The story is realistic except for the little bits of fantasy thrown in. It’s absurd that Garnet would be able to heal people, but she does, but not all the time. She might have been a saint, or a healer, but only selectively, when she was inspired, though she had no control.
There aren’t any hens in this novel, but there is one mention, “Dad, bless his henpecked heart, slinked over to Uncle Dom’s to beg for a down payment on a house.” Garnet’s father was always tormented by his father and brother. Ms. Hen doesn’t love the term henpecked, since she thinks it’s insulting to hens, but she believes it is the right way to describe the father at this time.
Ms. Hen says, run as fast as you can to buy this novel, and read it. She thinks it’s one of the best books she’s read this year so far. She loved living in Garnet’s world for a short time, and she found she could not put the book down; she read all the time, because she enjoyed the novel so much, she wanted to swim in it, and float in it, letting it envelop her mind and take over her world.