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Literary Classics Review     


A Recent Martyr (Voices of the South series)
By Valerie Martin
LSU Press, 2001 Reprint Edition
ISBN: 0-8071-2741-8



A Recent Martyr, first published in 1987, established Valerie Martin as a major voice in American Literature.

Emma Miller, married and the mother of a five year old who looks like her father, is bored with her marriage and mesmerized by her affair with Pascal Toussaint. Eventually, she asks to have her work hours reduced in order to spend time with the son of one of the finest families in New Orleans.

Pascal is introduced to Claire D' Anjou, at a family dinner given by his mother for their parish priest. Claire has been sent back to her hometown by her convent in the hopes of calming her religious fervor.

The two women's capacity for passion draws them to each other and Toussaint to them in an increasingly obsessive triangle. When parts of the city are quarantined by a mysterious plague, Emma and Claire both volunteer at the hospital hoping their sacrifice will save others. Claire's willingness to touch even the sickest child has made parents believe she's a healer.

Sexual and religious fetish are an interchangeable, deadly, and ultimately, redemptive combination for Emma, Pascal, and Claire.

Valerie Martin was born in Missouri and reared in New Orleans. She currently resides in upstate New York. She is the author of six novels, two collections of short stories, and a biography of St. Francis.


Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews

2002 Southern Scribe Reviews, All Rights Reserved