By Sarah Dunant
Hello friends!!! I think this is the never-ending winter. It is spring you say!! It sure doesn’t look like it! There is 2 inches of snow on the ground, AGAIN!! I am more than ready for warmer weather!!
This is a book that I purchased awhile back and didn’t get around to reading until recently. This book has been released with a couple different covers. My edition was printed in 2009. I read and reviewed Sarah’s book In the Company of the Courtesan and I really enjoyed that one, so I knew that I would like this one also. Yes, this is another of those Historical Fiction Books. It weighs in with 410 pages. It never seemed too long or boring. I ploughed right through it and finished it in a couple of days.
The year is 1570, and a new novice has just been forced into the Italian convent of Santa Caterina. Ripped by her family from the man she loves, sixteen-year-old Serafina is sharp and defiant. Her first night inside the walls is spent in an incandescent rage so violent that the dispensary mistress, Suora Zuana, is dispatched to the girl’s cell to sedate her. Thus begins a complex relationship of trust and betrayal. As Serafina rails against her incarceration, disorder and rebellion mount inside the convent, while beyond its walls, the dictates of the Counter-Reformation begin to impose a regime of oppression that threatens what little freedom the nuns have enjoyed. Acclaimed author Sarah Dunant brings the intricate Renaissance world compellingly to life in this rich, engrossing, multifaceted love story encompassing the passions of the flesh, the exultation of the spirit, and the deep, enduring power of friendship (excerpt from Goodreads).
The convent of Santa Caterina of 1570 is not as innocent as it seems. Life in the convent was often forced on young girls that were not able to make good marriages. Santa Caterina receives only daughters from wealthy noble families. They do not hold fast to the rules of the other stricter convents. They allow family visits and the nuns are permitted to have occupations within the convent. While the ending is a little outlandish, to me Serafina’s story was believable. The book was well written with wonderful development of each nun’s character and personality. It was eventful and kept me reading with interesting little twists and turns. This is a fascinating look at the secret lives of nun’s. It contains lies, deceptions, politics inside the convent. The Abess is always able to justify their actions and convince everyone that they are doing the right thing. This is a love story in the end. It presents us with love of God, love between a man and a woman and the sisterly love between the nuns. I also felt that the title fit this novel well. I give this book a strong 4 out of 5 stars.