Book 211: THE PATRON SAINT OF UGLY Review



The Patron Saint of Ugly by Marie Manilla
ISBN: 9780544146242 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780544133488 (ebook)
ASIN: B00E78IB0C (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Mariner (Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt)


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.



Garnet Ferrari is the object of either extreme prejudice or adoration in her hometown of Sweetwater, West Virginia. To most of the children in town and some of the parents, she is feared and hated because she is different. To the nonnas (Italian grandmothers) and a few others, she is adored for her mystical healing powers. Although Garnet’s childhood isn’t ideal it is filled with family and love, but all of that quickly changes with one traumatic incident quickly followed by a horrific accident that devastates the entire Ferrari family.

The Patron Saint of Ugly is a fast-paced read about love, survival, and hope. All Garnet, indeed any of the women married into the Ferrari family, want is to be loved. Garnet spends the beginning of her childhood being tortured by the ugly taunts of others. She spends her adolescence and early adulthood striving to be overlooked. It isn’t until she returns to Sweetwater as an adult that she seems to overcome the struggle of being perceived as “normal.” 

The Patron Saint of Ugly evoked a lot of responses from me while I was reading: sadness, empathy, sympathy, and laughter. Garnet’s nonna was the source of much of that laughter with her machinations during Garnet’s childhood and adulthood. Much of the story takes place in either Italy in the early 1920s, West Virginia in the 1950s, early 1960s, and mid 1970s. Ms. Manilla’s characters are either extremely lovable or despised. I don’t think any reader will like Garnet’s grandfather, maternal grandmother, or La Strega (no, I’m not going to tell you who La Strega is . . . read the book). Garnet’s story is gradually revealed in a series of taped reminiscences for the Vatican, as she attempts to debunk her so-called healing gifts. It is in these narrations that we learn the back-stories for her nonna and mother, as well as learning about Garnet’s inner longings and desires. If you enjoy reading well-crafted fiction that combines humor, a quest for survival, a longing for normality, mythic origins, and a touch of magic, then The Patron Saint of Ugly is one story you have to read.

Disclaimer: I received copies of this book free for review purposes from the author and publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Bookish Ramblings and a Book Giveaway


I had the pleasure of attending a reception at the West Virginia Culture Center yesterday for participants of the West Virginia Reads 150 program. I had a wonderful time with friends from several of my local book clubs. I also got to meet some wonderful WV-based authors and make some new bookish friends. For those of you that are unaware, the WV Reads 150 program took place from January 1 through December 31, 2013 in honor of West Virginia’s Sesquicentennial. The goal was to read at least 150 books throughout the calendar year as a team or individual. I participated on several teams last year, and fortunately we all succeeded our goal to read 150 books. The program was such a success that it is being continued this year as WV Reads 150+.


I reconnected with my bookish friend, co-leader of one of my local book groups, a librarian extraordinaire, and an esteemed author, Sarah Title (pardon my sunglasses, but I was dealing with another migraine). Sarah’s first book was published in 2013 by Kensington, Kentucky Home. What?! You haven’t read Kentucky Home? Well, what are you waiting for? Grab a copy today and read it! Sarah’s other titles include: Kentucky Christmas, and, “Full Moon Pie” in Delicious with Lori Foster & Lucy Monroe. Her book, Home Sweet Home, is scheduled for release on April 3, 2014 (review coming soon). Connect with Sarah at her website: http://www.sarahtitle.com

Kentucky Home (A Southern Comfort Novel):

In this warm and witty new series, author Sarah Title introduces readers to the down home Kentucky hospitality of the Carson family and their Wild Rose Farm and Stables. It’s a place where love is always possible–and sweeter than ever the second time around . . . 

Mallory Thompson and Keith Carson are far from impressed with each other when she arrives at his family’s horse farm, fleeing an abusive marriage. Mallory sees nothing but a gruff man who’s as patronizing as her soon-to-be ex-husband, and Keith has no time for a city girl who’s afraid of dogs. But the struggling Wild Rose is too small to allow anyone to keep their distance . . . 

As one by one, Mallory wins the hearts of his family, from his cranky father to his headstrong younger sister and three-legged dog, Keith finds himself more than a little attracted to her stubborn charm. And the longer Mallory stays, the more she realizes Keith is nothing like the overbearing bully she married–and the more she fantasizes about being in his strong, loving arms. Maybe some folks get a second chance to make a first impression after all . . . 


Home Sweet Home (Southern Comfort #2):

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of a ramshackle house must be in want of a handyman.”

Just because English professor Grace Williams is a woman whose “new” house is crumbling around her doesn’t mean she needs an arrogant, condescending man’s help, even if he does look gorgeous in faded jeans and a tool belt. What she needs is a working bathroom, not a ridiculous crush.

Jake Burdette has no use for the university types who stumble around Willow Springs, with their noses in the air whenever they’re not in a book. He may not be a scholar, but he’s proud of the hard, honest work he does—even if he would appreciate a little more of it. He doesn’t need Grace’s pity, even if he does wish she wasn’t so adorably sexy.

They’re all wrong for each other. But Grace’s troublesome house seems to feel differently…


I’ll be giving away a copy of Delicious, signed by Sarah Title, to one lucky blog follower (see the rafflecopter form below to enter).

Delicious

With a full moon hanging over the apple orchards of Delicious, Ohio, romance is in the air, and three couples are about to experience the magic of falling in love. 

Down on Jonathan Avenue, the shy proprietor of the quaint bookstore can’t seem to keep her fantasies about a famous writer to herself.

While at The Old Orchard Inn the tempting smell of spiced hot cider lures an out-of-town investor to investigate the magnetic attraction of his sultry but strangely old-fashioned manager.

And over at Apple of My Pie a play-by-the-rules accountant wants much more than tasty treats from the pop up food truck’s capricious baker.

Satisfaction is just a bite away. 




I got to meet local author Eric Douglas. Mr. Douglas has quite a number of fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books published. Here are just a few of his titles: River Town, Wreck of the Huron, Guardian’s Keep, Flooding Hollywood, and Cayman Cowboys. To learn more about Mr. Douglas and his wonderful books, please visit his website: www.booksbyeric.com




I got the opportunity to reconnect with Marilyn Sue Shank, Christy-award winning author of Child of the Mountains. This book was simply amazing and so captivating that I read it in one sitting. To learn more about Ms. Shank and her book, please visit her website: http://www.marilynsueshank.com

Child of the Mountains

It’s about keeping the faith.

Growing up poor in 1953 in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia doesn’t bother Lydia Hawkins. She treasures her tight-knit family. There’s her loving mama, now widowed; her whip-smart younger brother, BJ, who has cystic fibrosis; and wise old Gran. But everything falls apart after Gran and BJ die and mama is jailed unjustly. Suddenly Lydia has lost all those dearest to her. 

Moving to a coal camp to live with her uncle William and aunt Ethel Mae only makes Lydia feel more alone. She is ridiculed at her new school for her outgrown homemade clothes and the way she talks, and for what the kids believe her mama did. And to make matters worse, she discovers that her uncle has been keeping a family secret—about her.

If only Lydia, with her resilient spirit and determination, could find a way to clear her mother’s name . . . 



I had the pleasure of meeting Marie Manilla, author of Shrapnel, Still Life with Plums, and the upcoming The Patron Saint of Ugly. One of my friends read and recommended Still Life with Plums, so I’ll be reading that over the weekend. I’m hoping to get an advanced reader copy of The Patron Saint of Ugly to review before its release on June 17, 2014 (if not, I’ll review it after the publication date). To learn more about Ms. Manilla and all of her writings, please visit: www.mariemanilla.com

The Patron Saint of Ugly (coming soon)

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.




I don’t have space to mention all of the wonderful WV authors that were at this reception, but I just want to give them a quick “thank you” for giving up a beautiful Saturday afternoon to spend some time with fellow book lovers. A big “Thank You” and congratulations are offered to the West Virginia Library Commission and the Kanawha County Public Library for hosting a wonderful reception. I can’t wait to read books written by many of these new-to-me authors. Who knew little old WV had so many amazing authors within its borders?











My apologies to all of my loyal followers as I wasn’t able to truly celebrate my 3rd blogiversary with you. This has been a rough year starting with my father’s emergency admission on New Year’s Eve, followed by two surgical procedures; then there was the local water crisis, which seems to be never-ending; and, last by no means least, my own medical issues. I simply did not have the wherewithal to celebrate anything earlier this money and my finances really didn’t allow for much more than a token cupcake. This giveaway may not make up for the missed blogiversary, but I hope the winner will enjoy reading some wonderful stories written by Lori Foster, Lucy Monroe, and the wonderful Sarah Title. This giveaway is for one paperback copy of Delicious featuring stories written by these three wonderful authors, and it has been signed by Sarah Title. This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada, and will end at midnight ET on Saturday, March 29th, 2014. The winner will be announced on Sunday, March 30th by 10:00 AM ET.