Diane Schoemperlen, Author . Viking $24.95 (346p) ISBN 978-0-670-89977-7

Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary have numbered in the millions over the 2,000 or so years since she gave birth to Jesus Christ. This book, which the author assures us is fiction, purports to describe one such sighting. Without plot, climax or resolution, it is not a standard novel. Rather, it consists of reflections and soul-searching by the nameless narrator, examples of the Marian phenomenon throughout the ages and considerable theorizing about Werner Heisenberg's uncertainty principle as it applies to historical facts. The narrator (whose life seems identical to Schoemperlen's) assures readers that she is in no way an extraordinary person, yet on a Monday in April, a woman in a blue trench coat and Nikes suddenly appears in her living room, calling herself "Mary, Mother of God" and asking if she can stay for a week to rest up before the demanding month of May, long ago dedicated to her. On the surface, the week is uneventful; the two women talk, shop, cook and exchange confidences. Mary tells of miracles throughout the ages, and the narrator realizes how much she has learned and changed over the years, particularly in coming to terms with being a single woman. None of this is dry material; in fact, it is briskly paced and engaging. Canadian writer Schoemperlen, whose previous novel, In the Language of Love, was highly praised, and whose short story collection, Forms of Devotion, won Canada's Governor General's Award, is a thoughtful and intelligent writer. Readers who enjoy unconventional fiction will find food for thought here. Agent, Bella Pomer. 6-city author tour. (May)

Forecast:The eternal popularity of Mary may sell a few copies of this novel, particularly if it is displayed with other spiritual titles, but true Marianites will likely prefer nonfiction accounts of her miraculous appearances.

Reviewed on: 04/30/2001
Release date: 04/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 432 pages - 978-0-00-225510-3
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 384 pages - 978-1-101-12259-4
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Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-101-12697-4
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-00-648585-8
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