Review: The Patron Saint of Ugly – Maria Manilla

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Mariner Books (June 17, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: ISBN-10: 0544146247
ISBN-13: 978-ISBN-13: 978-0544146242
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A young woman, “cursed” with a port-wine stain of the world covering her body, through recordings, details her life, her family history, and miracles attribute to her in her small town of Sweetwater, WV.


Garnet Ferrari – A young woman struggling to fit in and be loved.
Nonna Diamante – Garnet’s Sicilian Born Grandmother.


This was one of the most beautifully drawn tales I’ve had the experience to read. The characters are brought vividly to life, in often poignant, and at times humorous situations. The character of Nonna was one of my favorites, reminding me of the little small grandmother/mother we all tenderly remember. The character of Garnet is one of sadness, but also joy. You just feel for the poor girl, when she is constantly rejected by those whose love she desires most, because they consider her unattractive. She also watches sadly, as this love is often given to others much more freely.

A lot of the story style, reminds me of the movie, The Big Fish. You never know whether some of the events described were true, or were “stretches”. Through flashbacks, we get to see the original Garnet, Nonna’s life in Sicily and events that brought her to America, and many other events. The narrative though flows flawlessly, and in the end, one can’t help but love Garnet.

I’d rate this on a PG-13 scale due to some language, and events. But for a great reading experience, I don’t think you could go wrong with this novel. If you like rich characters, then this is definitely one for you. I heartily recommend it. It hits shelves on June 15-17, 2014.

About the Author

West Virginia native Marie Manilla is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her fiction has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Mississippi Review, Prairie Schooner, Calyx, Portland Review, NewSouth, South Writ Large, and other journals. Her novel SHRAPNEL (River City Publishing, 2012) was selected by author Daniel Wallace as winner of the Fred Bonnie Award for Best First Novel. Her collection of stories, STILL LIFE WITH PLUMS (West Virginia University Press, 2010), was a finalist for the Weatherford Award and ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year. Her novel THE PATRON SAINT OF UGLY will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in spring 2014. Learn more at

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out Marie for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.