James Carroll and Doubleday, The Cloister uses parallel storylines from the 12th and 20th centuries to illuminate and emphasize the timelessness of faith, love, fidelity, understanding and salvation.
I cannot emphasize enough how well written and lyrical this book is. It's definitely one of the more masterfully written books I've read this year. The prose is beautiful and luminous. The author's ability to write so honestly about some of the most atrocious, brutal, and heartbreaking episodes of both the 12th and 20th centuries is breathtaking.
I was really struck by the elevation and sanctity of these two couples (whose relation to one another form two potential halves of a whole circle) separated by almost a millennium, being shaped and molded by these watershed moments. That there are valuable human lessons in the midst of devastation and horror throughout time and history and that it was just as true a thousand years ago as now, was very profound to me.
This is a book which is going to stick with me. I think this is an important book, even (especially?) for people who have no active religious belief system. The book provides such an eloquent and unassailable logical argument for compassion and self control especially with regard to external belief systems.
It's not an easy book to read. It's emphatically not light reading. The language is finely crafted, but it took me time to digest and understand.
Flawless and achingly beautiful.
Anticipated publication date: 6 March, 2018
Formats: Kindle / Hardcover, 384 pages.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher.