14 April 2016

Review: Immaculate Heart by Camille DeAngelis

Review: Immaculate Heart by Camille DeAngelisWhy I read Immaculate Heart by Camille DeAngelis: I've always been attracted to books set in Ireland. I was drawn to the premise: What would happen if the Virgin Mary appeared to a group of teenagers? Who would believe them? How would they be changed?

What's it all about: In a small town in Ireland, four teens claim to have seen the Virgin Mary. After a woman is miraculously cured by the waters of a well, the area briefly becomes a pilgrimage site. But when Rome refuses to recognize the visitations, one girl begins to deny the events, and two kids leave Ireland, the world soon forgets about Ballymorris and its connection to Mary.

Twenty-five years later, an American journalist is in town to attend a family funeral. He had been to Ballymorris only once before, in the months before the miracles, but he and his late sister had befriended all four children involved. Sensing there may be a story here, the journalist begins investigating the veracity of the events.

My reactions: Frankly, I'm having a hard time solidifying my opinion. The journalist (who either was unnamed or whose name was used so rarely I don't remember it) interviews the three women who claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary (the man no longer lives in town), reads diaries and newspaper articles, and talks to various townspeople to try to determine if the miracle was real or was a teen prank. He wants to know what the four people saw and whether they all received the same message. Instead of clear answers, he--and we--get a lot to think about.

The story captured my attention, and I was interested in learning more about the miracle, what Mary said to the children, and if Mary still visited them. However, I didn't find the novel overly satisfying. Several aspects of the plot bothered me--for example, Why did the three women open up to the journalist after having been silent for so many years? In addition, I'm not quite sure how I wanted the book to end, but I wanted something more concrete than what I got.

On the other hand, DeAngelis proposes some interesting theories of the afterlife, time, forgiveness, and what God may know about our true selves.

• Themes: friendship, family, siblings, faith, miracles, the church

• Recommendations: Camille DeAngelis's Immaculate Heart would probably appeal more strongly to readers familiar the Catholic Church. The novel is an engaging, thought-provoking character study that could have had a stronger ending.

Published by St. Martin's Press, 2016
ISBN-13: 9781250046512
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


rhapsodyinbooks 4/14/16, 7:16 AM  

Sounds like a retelling of the Lady of Lourdes story....

Daryl 4/14/16, 8:37 AM  

interesting premise ... interesting review ... i am giving it a maybe ...

Tina 4/14/16, 4:24 PM  

I am also a fan of books set in Ireland but I don't think I will grab this one. Have you tried any of Tana French's novels about the Dublin Murder Squad? If you like detective stories with personal lives woven within you may like these. Love the Irish setting.

I wonder if there is an Irish book challenge going on?

Jackie McGuinness 4/16/16, 8:09 AM  

So you know I am going to add this to my TBR list!!!!!! Thanks!!
Anything Irish and then the added value of religion always gets me.

Kailana 4/16/16, 10:28 AM  

Not sure if this is for me, but it does sound good... Maybe one day I will try it and see!

Unknown 6/20/16, 5:41 PM  

I just don't get the ending. It is disturbing, I'll give you that, in an unexpected way. But, after all that happened, even given the poetic Sile parts, I can't wrap it up in my head. Were the girls duped? Was Mary, Mary or a demonic entity? How could Sile have written that last entry we were given? Why does the journalist not seem as despicable as he was when young? Why was he that way? I know to offer an opinion would spoil the book for others but this darned book is making me crazy. I feel like I invested a lot in it and had such empathy with the characters but in the end, am not bright enough to "get it".

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