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Our Lady Of The Lost And Found [Paperback]

Diane Schoemperlen
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 18 2002
She realized later that there had been signs.

The kitchen faucet, which had been dripping for a year and a half, stopped. The toaster, which had recently been refusing to surrender the bread, popped up with enthusiasm. At the drugstore, all the things she needed were on sale. And she miraculously found her long lost high school charm bracelet, with the “Sweet Sixteen” amulet still intact.

So when the Virgin Mary appears in her living room sporting a blue trenchcoat and battered white Nikes, she shouldn’t be surprised. Now Mary is asking to stay for a week’s R & R. And her hostess isn’t even Catholic. . .

In Our Lady of the Lost and Found, Diane Schoemperlen has once again brilliantly re-imagined the structure and form of the novel. This is the story of how a visit from the Virgin Mary propels an ordinary forty-something writer into a vibrant examination of life’s big questions. She discovers how her uncertainty and doubts actually make her the perfect candidate for becoming a person of faith; how she can be both victim and villain in her own story; and how what looks like irony often turns out to be grace.

Along the way, in a unique and seamless blend of fiction, history and philosophy, Mary is revealed to us. She is the mother of Jesus, purveyor of miracles, and the enigmatic figure who inhabits our own collective consciousness— yet whom we know little about. Our Lady of the Lost and Found is a novel that redefines the notion of fiction and non-fiction; truth and honesty; doubt and faith. Infused with Schoemperlen’s trademark wit and unpretentious, gently ironic style, it is a magical masterpiece of storytelling.

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From Amazon

When the Virgin Mary turns up wearing a navy blue trench coat and pair of white running shoes in the living room of Diane Schoemperlen's anonymous narrator in Our Lady of the Lost and Found, her host is hardly surprised. After all, there were signs. Her week has been filled with good fortune, which in hindsight now looks divine. Thursday, for instance, a day when recalcitrant toasters, clocks, and answering machines suddenly begin working again, "turned out to be what I now think of as The Day of Mechanical Miracles."

And so the Governor General's Award-winning author of Forms of Devotion and In the Language of Love launches into her tale of how the Mother of God invites herself to the tidy small-town home of a 40-ish Canadian writer. During a week or two of R&R, Mary spends her time washing dishes, making waffles, and shopping incognito at the mall. Not surprisingly, her presence inspires the narrator to do a little soul-searching in the form of a highly academic quest into the nature of truth and history and a study of historic Marian apparitions. One big question that isn't asked is about the nature of faith. The anonymous and not particularly devout narrator never doubts. The result--credulous accounts of Mary's most famous earthly appearances, from Guadalupe through Lourdes--cramps Schoemperlen's glib narrative flow, but as a device to shock readers out of complacent expectations (even cynical consumers of postmodern irony can get soft when it's spoon-fed), it's brilliant. --Deirdre Hanna --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

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.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mother Mary comfort me.... Aug. 26 2002
By A Customer
This book is greater than the plot or characters it protrays. It speaks insightfully about the nature of modern spirituality, and its importance to the intellectual mind. It is beautifully written in clear and poetic style. My favourite exerpt is found at the conclusion of the chapter entitled 'Grace' in which D.S. points out the differences between traditional world dicotomy (love/hate, truth/lies, boy/girl) and the insight found at looking at the world in terms of paradox, prayer and chaos. I loved this book for its ability to say words that I have long thought, only did not voice in such a beautiful fahion. I highly recomend this book to anyone who questions the nature of modern religion and spirituality.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Holy Family On a Raft!! This was good! Dec 20 2001
I'm a lapsed Catholic but have always had a curiosity about the history of Mary, alleged Virgin
mother of Jesus of Nazareth. Erroneously I thought the book was a fictional account of a made
up visit between a non-catholic unsuspecting woman and the mother of the Devine savior. I found
quickly that it was that and more! Schoemperlen weaved an intriguing tale that left my imagination
to wander. Several times she had me convinced, because of excellent historical research and clever
writing that indeed Mary did come to visit and refresh herself at the authors home!
Perhaps it was slow at times, but only served to let me recover between giggles of delight.
I've recommended this to all of my Catholic and Non-Catholic (especially recovering Catholic)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She found me! Oct. 19 2001
By A Customer
This book took me by surprise. I found a stack of them on the floor in Oliver's Bookstore while visiting Nelson, B.C. I think Mary made sure I bought it. Being a sort-of Catholic, the title grabbed my attention. Once I started reading it, I could not put it down.
The storyline made me laugh out loud. The history, or lack of history, of Mary was very interesting. I thought it dragged towards the end, but it all came together.
I have thought about this book many times since I read it. I shared it with my mother & she loved it, too. I am sending it to a family member, who happens to be a Catholic priest. I won't be surprised if Mary wants him to read it - he can be a stuffed shirt sometimes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is simply one of the most original and most creative pieces of work I've read in a very long time. I have read reviews that call it plotless and without climax, but I beg to differ. You can debate what a 'plot' is...this book is trying to do many things as once, and I'd say it succeeds in all of its goals. It is an overriding narrative about a visitation; it is a collections of narratives about other visitations (I only found one very minor historical inaccuracy, and Schoemperlen, unlike Timothy Findley in _Pilgrim_, gets Teresa of Avila dead on); in the end it is an examination of our definitions of fact and fiction, and which brings us more 'truth', and what it means to write ourselves a narrative of our lives. And, of course, what Mary means to us.
What is most compelling about this work, aside from the amazing linkages between history and physics and fiction and love and scientific method, are the details. I have never seen a book so full of details, minor and major, from the colour of the walls in each bedroom to the recipe for barley zucchini casserole to the beads of water on Mary's white nikes.They're wonderful details; her narrative comes in the details.
This book is charming, funny, startlingly thoughtful and even, at one point at least, overwhelmingly profound (she got me to cry over my chinese food in a mall food court.) It isn't a standard novel, and at times you won't feel sure that what you're reading is fiction at all (is the narrator really just the author? Is she telling us about her own life? Is this a history book? Is it some form of non-fiction?) But I think it's that variety and that richness that gives this book it's character. I would definitely recommend it, and I've already lent out my copy, and have had requests from others to be next on the list.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simplicity Feb. 19 2002
This book is an example of a simple tale told simply--but one that has great impact. Schoemperlen portrays the Virgin Mary as an ordinary woman, living an ordinary life in a way that is extraordinary. She tells the story without embellishment or any miraculous events, yet makes the point that such is the stuff of saints. It is a book that can be life-changing; one need not be of heroic proportions to be a hero.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Divine! Sept. 12 2009
By Saro
Unlike other Canadian novels of its genre, Our Lady of the Lost and Found is a profound and quietly affecting gem that does not produce ennui or restlessness. Despite her critics, Schoemperlen produces an entrancing tale which begins with a window to a writer's solitary yet comfortable life and routine in Anyville, North America (although the author betrays her Canadian roots at the outset of the novel) and leads to a series of spiritually sumptuous moments that begin with the arrival of the Virgin Mary at the narrator's doorstep (rather at the foot of the fig tree in the living room).

In Our Lady of the Lost and Found, Schoemperlen juxtaposes the nameless narrator's ordinary life and daily preoccupations with a brief albeit rousing history of the Virgin Mary and her apparitions throughout the past two millenniums. Indeed, Schoemperlen's gem of a novel is not riddled with a defining plot or particularly thrilling or resonating events in the course of its denouement. Then again, this bookworm does not object to a slow paced book that unfurls a delightful narrative which interweaves faith, science, and the frailty of the human mind and psyche with amazing attention to detail, pathos and humour.

Schoemperlen displays an effacing and quasi-self-deprecating sense of humour which makes the dreariness of a quiet existence come alive in vivid shapes and colours. In reading Our Lady of the Lost and Found, one is drawn in quietly towards the germination of the story of the protagonist's life which rings surprisingly true to the quiet existence of this particular reader's reality. In some way, one cannot help feel a slight forbearing of things to come which was oddly comforting to me.
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