Shining out from glittering church icons, stained-glass windows, and classical European paintings Mary’s mysterious smile, in some way, touches all who view Her. Is it Her blessing, as we have been told? Or could it be a sweet memory still lingering on her lips that She has secreted away? This little story book tells what has been hidden for ages.
Oh what a joy to take a so familiar story, add an element that feels so natural, so positive, so human, so believable, and still keep the essence of the original message. For anybody who suspected Mary’s secret all along, Mary’s Secret gives us a sense of Mary’s humanity while not in the least diminishing her “purity” or likeability. Claudette has captured some positive human attributes we all wish for ourselves and for each other and rolled them into a very readable, enjoyable story.
Founding member of the Kootenay Storytelling Guild and the Kootenay Storytelling Festival
About the author
Claudette RdV Burton is a Canadian writer, storyteller, and naturalist gardener living on a glacial bench overlooking Kootenay Lake near Nelson, British Columbia.
Mary’s Secret is her most recent young adult book that arose from a trip to Spain and Andorra in 2019 researching her matriarchal lineage. Several surprising twists and humourous encounters with pre-Catholic art in ancient Roman churches in the Pyrenees led to her writing out this pagan, feminist version of Mary’s betrothal to Joseph and all that might have happened. Through imagery this book encourages young women to question the validity of their society’s stories and a way to nurture their own inner wisdom.
Claudette’s first children’s novel The Porcupine Who Would was inspired by several funny encounters with porcupines on a field trip up the Westfall River to assess mountain caribou habitat and landscape connectivity. Much of her earlier writing focused on environmental research, local forestry politics, a gardening column and an article for Harrowsmith on Kootenay Doukhobor gardens.
She gives thanks to her muses – family, local wildlife, and numerous ‘spirits of place’–for their support and inspiration.
Queens Bay author releases new book, Mary’s Secret
by Jan McMurray, December 17, 2020 The Valley Voice
Queens Bay Author Claudette RdV Burton has written a delightful story called Mary’s Secret, offering an account of Mother Mary that is different from the norm. Burton was inspired to write the story last fall while she was hiking in Andorra, a tiny country between Spain and France.
“In Andorra, I started understanding Mary as a whole other entity than what the Catholic Church portrayed her as,” Burton said in an interview. “Once or twice I felt intimidated because I was going against the mainstream, but I kept having dreams encouraging me to carry on.”
Burton explained that there are very old Roman churches in Andorra, and many of their frescoes had been plastered over because of their Pagan content.
“It was interesting to realize that the Roman Catholic Church felt it was necessary to rearrange the artwork to suit the story line that they wanted to tell,” she said. The image on the front cover of Mary’s Secret is of a carving of Mary and Jesus that is legendary in Andorra.
As the story is told, ages ago the original carving was found under a white rose bush when the church it had been displayed in burnt down in the town of Meritxell. Although taken
to another grander church in Canillo, it disappeared again with no footprints left in the snow – only to be found back under the same rose bush down the valley. This was considered miraculous and a new church was built for Her near the rose bush in Meritxell. Our Lady of Meritxell became the Patron Saint of Andorra.
“It was the first time in my life I had ever met a Mary I could relate to,” Burton said. “She looks so burnt out, with this special two-year-old on her lap. I chuckled to myself when I saw the carving.” A couple of days later, Burton saw a shopping bag with her portrait on it winking, which made her laugh out loud. “These two images of Mary in very different moods sparked fresh insights for me that became this story,” she said. “It was just delightful, so liberating, that I had to write it out.”
Burton says there are various layers to the story, and grandmothers will find something different than a teen in its pages. “We are storytelling creatures. Why do we accept some stories and reject others? The whole storytelling process is fascinating to me. You can see it today. When you have a powerful person like the pope or Donald Trump tell stories that some people think is a crock and others swallow hook, line and sinker – how does this happen? Politics and reality can be changed because of one powerful person’s stories being repeated over and over again.”
Burton has lived in Queens Bay for over 40 years. She has written articles for magazines and other periodicals, and a book, The Porcupine who Would, a children’s story about local landscape ecology issues. New Denver residents Art Joyce and Anne Champagne were involved in the early editing of Mary’s Secret. The book is available at Raven’s Nest in New Denver, Spiritwood in Nakusp, Eurythmy Studio & Books in Kaslo, and Otter Books in Nelson.