Ideas & Inspiration for The Patron Saint of Ugly
Born in Sweetwater, West Virginia, with a mop of flaming red hair and a map of the world rendered in port-wine stains on every surface of her body, Garnet Ferrari is used to being an outcast. With her sharp tongue, she has always known how to defend herself against bullies and aggressors, but she finds she is less adept at fending off the pilgrims who have set up a veritable tent city outside her hilltop home, convinced that she is Saint Garnet, healer of skin ailments and maker of miracles.
Her grandmother, the indelible Nonna Diamante, believes that Garnet’s mystical gift can be traced back to the family’s origins in the Nebrodi Mountains of Sicily, and now the Vatican has sent an emissary to Sweetwater to investigate. Garnet, wanting nothing more than to debunk this “gift” and send these desperate souls packing, reaches back into her family’s tangled past and unspools for the Church a tale of love triangles on the shores of the Messina Strait; a sad, beautiful maiden’s gilded-cage childhood in blueblood Virginia; and the angelic, doomed boy Garnet could not protect.
Saint or not, Garnet learns that the line between reality and myth is always blurred, and that the aspects of ourselves we are most ashamed of can prove to be the source of our greatest strength, and even our salvation.
Title-specific resources for your Book to Art Club:
- Suggested discussion questions from the author's website.
- Project ideas and inspiration Pinterest board for this title.
- Winner of the Weatherford Award.
- West Virginia Public Radio Interview of Marie Manilla on The Patron Saint of Ugly.
About the suggested projects:
Geography, beauty, Italian culture, religion and myth play dominate visual roles in this tale. Experiment with map and globe portraiture and collage or create mystical talismans inspired by the story with found objects like seashells, stones, and even locks of hair, if you dare!