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The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls: A Novel

por Ursula Hegi

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605350,087 (3.46)2
"From beloved bestselling author Ursula Hegi, a new novel about three mothers, set on the shores of the Nordsee, perfect for fans of Water for Elephants and The Light Between Oceans. In the summer of 1878, the Ludwig Zirkus has come to the island Nordstrand in Germany. Big-bellied girls rush from St. Margaret's Home for Pregnant Girls, thrilled to see the parade and the show, followed by the Sisters who care for them. The Old Women and Men, competing to be crowned as the island's Oldest Person, watch, thinking they have seen it all. But after the show, a Hundred-Year Wave roars from the Nordsee and claims three young children. Three mothers are on the beach when it happens: Lotte, whose children are lost; Sabine, a Zirkus seamstress with her grown daughter; and Tilli, still just a child herself, who will give birth later that day at St. Margaret's. And all three will end up helping each other more than they ever could have anticipated. As full of joy and beauty as it is of pain, and told with the luminous power that has made Ursula Hegi a beloved bestselling author for decades, The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls is a shattering portrait of marriage and motherhood, and of the ways in which women hold each other up in the face of heartbreak"--… (más)
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Mostrando 5 de 5
I saw some critics call this book a historical novel. I strongly disagree. This book is more of a character driven fantasy not magic realism but more a dream like setting than reality. ( )
  janw | Dec 9, 2020 |
While I admire Hegi’s departure from her usual style of writing, issues dealing with more modern times in Germany, I found this story of motherhood and loss to meander. Focusing on three mothers in the mid 1800’s, Hegi has chosen an 11-year old impregnated by her twin brother who is forced to go to a Catholic home for unwed mothers, Sabine who is mother to a mentally handicapped daughter and Lotte, who goes to live at the Catholic home for unwed mothers after three of her children drowned in a freak wave. There is a lot of compassion in the writing and like her outstanding book Stones from the River, misfits are central to the story. Where Trudi the dwarf in Stones from the River gripped me in empathy from the beginning, I was unable to get caught up emotionally in this story. ( )
  brangwinn | Aug 23, 2020 |
3.5-My first introduction to the writing of this author, and I have to admit I wasn't immediately drawn into this novel. The writing was gorgeous, the descriptions like a poem, but it has a very different structure and tone.

It's the mid 1800's in the village of Nordstrand, off Germany's coast. There is a school for pregnant girls, run by the nuns, but these nuns are kind, loving and wise. There is a competitive yearly contest for the oldest man or woman and it is after this contest that a huge wave, takes away Lotte and Kallis three young children. There is also a a zircus which comes every year and will play a big part in the story. There are also a group of old women who gossip, hold secrets and I loved their inclusion.

A novel of loss, survival, love and redemption, showing both the frailty and inner strength of women. Three women will come together to help each other move forward. It is a melancholy story, elegant and ethereal, almost like a fever dream. Maybe a myth or tale of folklore. This is life in all its glory and struggles, of the pulling together and pushing apart. I ended up embracing this novel for its very different storytelling and beautiful writing.

This was my first Hegi, but it won't be the last. I have two novels by this author sitting on my home shelves.

ARC from Edelweiss. ( )
  Beamis12 | Jun 12, 2020 |
I did find this book a little in the unusual side, all at once whimsical and charming while also deeply fraught with some very heavy emotions. Set in the late 1800’s on the small island of Nordstrand in Germany, three vastly different women confront different aspects of love and loss. All share a special connection through a unique school/ orphanage/ church where pregnant girls who are cast out by their families for their sin can find a safe haven. Many of the babies are adopted out, those that are not are raised by the industrious sisters. Many of the girls return to their families after having their babies, while others that have nowhere else to go stick around to assist as needed. It is here that Sabine, Tilli, and Lotte find themselves. Sabine has spent much of her life protecting her developmentally challenged daughter, Tilli who fell pregnant at age 11, and Lotte who lost three of her four children in a freak 100 year wave. While their backgrounds are very different, each girl comes to serve a valuable place in the each of the other girls lives. While I did get slightly lost here and there, especially in the flash backs, generally the story held together well and is at times both hopeful, and melancholic. A worthwhile speed read notable for its ability to impart the unique perspectives of three extraordinary women on the reader while weaving an intricate period tale that is almost 150 years old. Thank you to Netgalley for early copy in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  hana321 | Mar 31, 2020 |
Ursula Hegi’s novel “The Patron Saint of Pregnant Women” is set in 1878, on a real island off the coast of Germany, the Nordstrand, where there is a tale of a vanished island, Rungholt. Rungholt is real: the “Atlantis of Norsee” was washed away by a massive storm in 1362.

The novel teeters right on the edge of magical realism. A nearly fantastical panorama of human experience is lived out within one small island, one small traveling circus (Zirkus), and the island’s convent, St. Margaret’s, a haven and school for pregnant girls. Hegi’s style is ethereal and methodical at the same time, with a flood (Hochwasser) of emotions just beneath the surface. It is sometimes unclear whether the biggest Zirkus is under the tents with the animals or in the audience; the Zirkus seems at times to be more normal than the island at large or the convent, which has a poor adoption record and is full of children.

Part of the book is written in first person (narrated by Sabine, a seamstress with the circus) and part is written in third person, and in this reviewer's opinion Hegi should have chosen one or the other.

The Old Women of the Nordstrand have weathered, and help other women to weather, unbelievable ordeals, but some griefs, they whisper, may never heal, and some methods of coping are unholy, and will bring more of the wrath of God and the sea—the same thing, in their view—upon the tenuous landscape.

The good nuns of St. Margaret’s are busy turning shamed pregnant girls into certified teachers with references, but some girls, they whisper, may never fit into their system.

The trio at the heart of the story are all mothers: Lottie, who can’t heal from her grief over her three children, swept out to sea by the Hochwasser, Tilli, who can’t get with the program at St. Margaret’s, and Sabine, who breaks all the rules in trying to secure her fragile daughter's future. As with Hegi’s masterpiece “Stones From the River,” misfits are a big theme, whether gender misfits, differently abled misfits, family misfits, religious misfits, or some combination of the above. The reader encounters many closely held secrets, much tragic human weakness, much uplifting and powerful love, and the constant presence of the chilly sea, soothing but also menacing. ( )
1 vota jillrhudy | Nov 14, 2019 |
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"From beloved bestselling author Ursula Hegi, a new novel about three mothers, set on the shores of the Nordsee, perfect for fans of Water for Elephants and The Light Between Oceans. In the summer of 1878, the Ludwig Zirkus has come to the island Nordstrand in Germany. Big-bellied girls rush from St. Margaret's Home for Pregnant Girls, thrilled to see the parade and the show, followed by the Sisters who care for them. The Old Women and Men, competing to be crowned as the island's Oldest Person, watch, thinking they have seen it all. But after the show, a Hundred-Year Wave roars from the Nordsee and claims three young children. Three mothers are on the beach when it happens: Lotte, whose children are lost; Sabine, a Zirkus seamstress with her grown daughter; and Tilli, still just a child herself, who will give birth later that day at St. Margaret's. And all three will end up helping each other more than they ever could have anticipated. As full of joy and beauty as it is of pain, and told with the luminous power that has made Ursula Hegi a beloved bestselling author for decades, The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls is a shattering portrait of marriage and motherhood, and of the ways in which women hold each other up in the face of heartbreak"--

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