Thursday, 15 August 2013

Book Review - The Cleaner of Chartres

I normally do not write reviews or advertise on my blog, but this is an exception to the rule! I was approached to give my opinion of  The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers, and because it is based in France, and is also about the wonderful cathedral city of Chartres, which we have visited see HERE, I decided to make the exception.


Hardcover: 304 pages also published on Kindle

Publisher: Viking; 1st edition (1 Nov 2012)

First Sentences: 'The old town of Chartres, which around the modern town anaesthetically sprawls, is built on a natural elevation that rises from a wide, wheat growing plain in the region of Beauce in central France.  Visitors and pilgrims, who since earliest times have made their ways to the ancient site, can see the cathedral of Notre Dame from many miles off, the twin spires, like loft beacons, encouraging them onwards

Review Quote: "A lovely book . . . wise at heart and filled with colourful characters" (Joanne Harris, Author Of Chocolat )


My Opinion: A great read and I particularly loved the background history of the cathedral.

The story is about a young woman, Agnes, who was discovered as a baby, in a basket in a field, by a man who took her to a convent, where she was brought up by nuns.  A turn of events appeared to make her psychologically unstable, but she befriended a doctor who eventually turned her life around.  She finally took on the job as the cleaner of the Chartres cathedral. Sadly, a well-to-do local lady, who Agnes also cleaned for, caused a lot of trouble for Agnes.  The story was even more interesting to me, in that there were many descriptions of the cathedral, and some background of its history, and I could place a number of the events, having been to the scene, although that was not necessary to get the best out of the book.

The story switches, in its telling, from the subject's early life to her present life, and back again, on a number of occasions.  I found this sometimes difficult to follow and had to flip back every now and again to be able to absorb the next part of the story.  Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the book's original plot and characters, and anyone who loves France  would, I think, find it a rewarding read.

Author profile: Vickers is a novelist in the great English tradition of moral seriousness. Her characters suffer, they struggle to be true to both themselves and the promptings of the human heart. 

If you enjoy the work of Marilynne Robinson, Penelope Fitzgerald, James Salter or Anita Brookner, you should be reading Vickers. All these authors reflect with grace and gravity on life’s moments of sorrowful epiphany.’ Michael Dirda, Washington Post.

To read more about Salley and the other books she has written see HERE



Barcelona Part 3 to follow very soon


17 comments:

  1. I too am attracted to books about places I've visited...but must admit to thoroughly disliking the books by Joanne Harris so am glad to have your review rather than hers!

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    1. Fly if you dislike the Joanne Harris books I suspect you may not like this either. I did though really enjoy the historical part of it. Have a good day Diane

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  2. So glad you made the exception as I am adding this title to my wishlist Diane. I hope you do not mind if I link to this post from my FB Book page. It is so good to be back here commenting, just had a lovely catch up. :)

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    1. Hi Lindy and it is good to have you back. Of course I do not mind if you link this page to FB and I am glad that you have enjoyed catching up. I have been posting very slowly as this seems to have been a very busy summer, but I do what I can when I have time. We have said we want to spend more time travelling while we are able so that makes even less time. Take care and look after yourself, Diane xx

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    2. Thanks, Diane. I'll give this book a try.

      Love your new header and looking forward to Barcelona Part 3. Have a good weekend.

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  3. Hello Diane!
    Would I have the time, I would certainly read it from what you say about it!
    I hope you are well!
    Enjoy your weekend!

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    1. Noushka you are like me not much time for reading. I only read in bed at night so sometimes when really tired it take me ages to get through a book! Diane

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  4. How fascinating that you've actually been to the places in this book. I can't imagine being left in a basket. Sounds like a great read Dianne. So glad you decided to review the book.
    Sam

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    1. It was really interesting reading a story about a place I have actually seen. Diane

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  5. Hi Diane .. historically it sounds an interesting read, the type of book I enjoy. I've never been to Chartres ... if I have I don't remember! Something that definitely needs to be rectified ..

    Happy weekend - gardening, visiting with or by friends etc .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary it was very interesting as i have actually been there, Yes we had a great weekend, thanks. Diane

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  6. Dear Diane, great blog and amazing photos!! Thank you for the advice about the book

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  7. Based on your review, I'm going to seek out the book. You've made it it both interesting and appealing. I hope your weekend is off to a great start. Blessings...Mary

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    1. Thanks Mary, I hope that you enjoy. Take care Diane

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  8. Sue may enjoy the book as we've both been to Chartre and thought it great, the river, the market and the cathedral - rode the bike out to the ruined castle about 10 km further down the river.

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    1. Leon I am sure Sue will enjoy it as there really is a lot of history about the cathedral in it. Nigel said it was not his type of book which I understand but he still quite enjoyed it. Diane

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