Menina Walker was the miracle in a terrible storm in a South-American country when she was found alone in a fishing vessel with a medal around her neck and an ancient book. She was adopted by American parents and had a nice upbringing. Now, at nineteen, she is going to Madrid to research a medieval artist, but bad weather and a stolen purse eventually leads her to a remote convent. Bored out of her mind, she tries to make sense of the convent’s numerous paintings and starts reading the ancient book which has always been with her. And unveils a remarkable story about the convent and its secret gospel.
The same old story, just a new setting. Which means that it is predictable and I was right in all my guesses how it would turn out. Luckily, the setting, with the Spanish Inquisition and the Sisterhood, was to my tastes, otherwise I’d give up pretty soon as the plot and language in the beginning when you get to know Menina are terrible.
It is definitely the historical context which saves this book. I have made notes to learn more about the Spanish Inquisition, both in Spain and South-America, about the Spanish settlers in South-America and the Incas. And it irks me that there is no Wikipedia page about the book, or author, yet as I’d like to know whether the convent and the Sisterhood are based on historical facts or entirely made up.
If you like the genre, you’ll enjoy it. And I have a feeling that this will be one of the summer’s must reads for many women.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,it was the season of light,it was the season of darkness,it was the spring of hope,it was the winter of despair.”
After spending many years in the Bastille, and many years living isolated and making shoes, Mr Manette is reunited with his unknown daughter, Lucie, who has been living in London. Mr Manette who used to be a doctor is mentally ill, and Lucie tries her best to get him back on his feet again. On their way back to England, they meet a young French man, Charles Darnay, who ends up charged for high treason, but is acquitted and then falls in love with Lucie. But the little happy family is soon in danger thanks to their past and the French Revolution.
My 4th Dickens and still I struggle. I just get lost in all the words and then don’t get the action at all. I think I finally got it around halfway through. But that doesn’t mean that the book is bad or boring. I really enjoyed it despite not getting the whole story straight with all the names, spies and counter-spies. One of the main reasons for this is that it is set in the midst of the French Revolution and you get thrown right in to it. I also admired the way Ms Pross kicked arse at the end.
Reverend MacKenzie and his pregnant wife, Lizzie, are about to move to the remote community of St. Kilda in 1830. The inhabitants have been described as heathen and filthy and he can’t wait to show them the right way.
But the life on St. Kilda is tough. The harsh weather conditions and the fact that it is so remote from the rest of Scotland mean that ships rarely come. And when the ships fail to show up, the inhabitants have to live with what the nature provides and that isn’t much. Their main ingredient is sea fowl. Most newborn babies die of the 8 day sickness. Lizzie loses more than one baby and the relationship between her and her husband goes astray. But worst of all for the reverend is that the inhabitants are reluctant to believe in the words of God.
Reverend MacKenzie and his wife Lizzie did live on St. Kilda from 1830 to 1943 and Karin has done a great job fictionalising their lives. She has described the islands so well that when I discovered the map after reading the book, it looked exactly how I pictured it. It was a fascinating read and I felt that I learnt a lot about the history of St. Kilda.
I have been fascinated by the isles after reading about it in my absolute favourite book Atlas of Remote Islands
. Sarah Moss has also written a great book about St. Kilda, Night Waking
, where she mixes past and present life on the isles.
The year is 1327 and Brother William of Baskerville has arrived at an abbey in Italy where he is to attend to a meeting to try to settle the dispute between Franciscans and Dominicans. But when he and his novice, Adso, get there, they are asked by the abbot to solve a murder before the meeting is to take place.
But then more murders take place and there’s a rumour among the monks that it is inspired by the seven trumpets of the Apocalypse. And William is certain that the answer is hiding somewhere in the library, but the library is like a labyrinth.
I hate that I always have the feeling that I have only understood less than half of the books Umberto Eco writes. But the story was at least easy to follow. But for me it was impossible to understand everything about the dispute between Franciscans and Dominicans and all about the heretics. I have a feeling that I would have benefited from knowing the papal history before reading this. And Latin as many Latin phrases are not translated. Some of them I understand out of the context and others I’m sure was some brilliant insults which would be nice to know.
Nevertheless, Umberto Eco is a brilliant writer. And I’m in awe of the way that he has managed to construct an abbey and placed it in the 1300s. The characters are also interesting. And there’s a lot of interesting things that happens in the monastery, and especially at night.
Quasimodo looks more like a monster than a man. After his mother’s death he was taken in by the priest of Notre-Dame where he eventually ended up working as the bell ringer, a job which made him deaf. He spends most of his time in the tower, watching down on the streets and people of Paris. He is especially interested in a beautiful young gypsy, la Esmeralda. But his saviour, the priest Claude Frollo, is also in love with the gypsy and he orders Quasimodo to kidnap her.
This book was a real struggle. It shifts from a very exciting story to long descriptions of architecture, philosophy and so on. Most of these parts I skimmed as I just wanted to finish the book. It is set in the late 1400s, and I wonder why. I also really dislike the way the authors used interrupt the story to address the reader with either a short summary or something off-topic.
I’m sure that I would have loved this story if it had been straight-forward. I kept looking at the progress bar wondering when the story would really get off and I think finally it did after I had read about 60%. And I remember the first 30% were especially terrible. And what worries me more, is that I never connected with the characters, none of them won me over and that’s probably one more reason why I didn’t like the book.
And I’m also disappointed because I really enjoyed les Miserables when I read that one a couple of years ago.
But at least I can finally cross out another big classic on my 1001 books challenge! If you want to read what others thought of the book, check out Line’s 1001 books challenge