Letters of a Portuguese Nun: Uncovering the Mystery Behind a 17th Century Forbidden Love by Myriam Cyr

I just got back from the library (returned Authentic Happiness and The Happiness Hypothesis) and of course I couldn’t leave without picking up yet another book:

Letters of a Portuguese Nun: Uncovering the Mystery Behind a 17th Century Forbidden Love by Myriam Cyr

I read the title and I had to borrow it.

Here’s what this real life story is about. In 1669, a Paris bookseller published a dainty volume called Portuguese Letters. The five letters were addressed to an unnamed French Officer who had been stationed in Portugal, where, between battles, he met, seduced and then left a beautiful twenty-six-year-old nun called Mariana.

It was small enough to fit in the palm of a hand or in a shirt pocket, but its passionate story inspired poets, painters, and academics for hundreds of years.

The inside flap cover says:

The letters spoke of love in a manner direct and unapologetic, unequivocally sensual and sexual, sending shivers through the sophisticated stratums of polite society. When they were made public in the salons of Paris, people assumed they were the fictional creation of a French aristocrat. The consensus was that no woman could write words of such stunning truth and beauty. The volume became a best seller while the officer [to whom the letters were written] maintained a chivalrous silence until his death.

The author first heard about these letters in the form of a play at Montreal’s Théâtre de Quat’ Sous and this book is the result of her three year investigation into the mystery surround these letters.

Cyr concludes that the nun, Mariana Alcoforado, existed and that the passionate letters were all her own work.

Click here to read an excerpt on the NPR website.

Sounds very intriguing to me! I’m looking forward to reading it…though I’ve got 11 other books that I’m planning on reading before I get to it.

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One response to “Letters of a Portuguese Nun: Uncovering the Mystery Behind a 17th Century Forbidden Love by Myriam Cyr

  1. Pingback: Letters of a Portuguese Nun: Thirty Two Questions on Love « Adventures in Reading

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