“The Passion of Mary-Margaret”
by Lisa Sampson
Nashville, TN: 2009
For me, the sign of a truly great novel is that I am sad when it ends. “The Passion of Mary-Margaret” by Lisa Sampson was so good that I just wanted it to keep going. Mary-Margaret Fisher is a School Sister of St. Mary who has been asked to write her memoirs for future sisters that might come later. She is the daughter of a woman who had been about to make her final vows of religious life when she was raped by a seminarian. Her mother died in childbirth, and Mary-Margaret feels destined to enter religious life and take the place that her mother would have filled. She is also a mystic and has many face-to-face conversations with Jesus, a fact that she keeps secret from everyone. In one of these conversations, Jesus tells her to take a different route, one shocking in its self-sacrifice but which will ultimately lead to her fulfillment and another’s salvation.
There was so much I enjoyed in “The Passion of Mary-Margaret.” The story was extremely well-written and fast moving. I hated to put the book down. The themes of second chances and God having a plan were very comforting. Sampson had some wonderful insights into the human condition and the meaning of faith. She dealt with very adult themes of rape, incest, and prostitution in a very respectful manner with the point of showing that there is nothing so bad that God can’t bring some good out of it. God is there even in the suffering. One of my favorite quotes from “The Passion of Mary-Margaret” comes near the end when Sr. Mary-Margaret is reflecting on the whole of her life: “Jesus asked a lot of me, yes, but it all worked out in the end, didn’t it? And these days, that’s something nobody wants to hear about. But I tell you this, my sisters, because sometimes it takes many decades for all to become clear.”
“The Passion of Mary-Margaret” is a must-read for anyone who enjoys Catholic fiction or simply appreciates a good story.
Reviewed by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur