The Cloister and the Hearth

Maid, wife and widow: a matter-of-fact romance

Cover image for


Author: Charles Reade
Published: 1861
Language: English
Wordcount: 281,124 / 777 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 78.6
LoC Category: PR
Downloads: 4,104 5845

There are many who think this the greatest of all historical novels, and it is certain that there are few better. It is not a story so much as a vast and varied transcript of life. It is also a delightful romance, and Gerard and Margaret are among the immortals of fiction.

Show Excerpt

ing going; and lie could lie as well as any, except the King of France. He was a mighty hunter, and could read and write. His tastes were wide and ardent. He loved jewels like a woman, and gorgeous apparel. He dearly loved maids of honour, and indeed paintings generally; in proof of which he ennobled Jan Van Eyck. He had also a rage for giants, dwarfs, and Turks. These last stood ever planted about him, turbaned and blazing with jewels. His agents inveigled them from Istamboul with fair promises; but the moment he had got them, he baptized them by brute force in a large tub; and this done, let them squat with their faces towards Mecca, and invoke Mahound as much as they pleased, laughing in his sleeve at their simplicity in fancying they were still infidels. He had lions in cages, and fleet leopards trained by Orientals to run down hares and deer. In short, he relished all rarities, except the humdrum virtues. For anything singularly pretty or diabolically ugly, this was your customer. The best of him was, he


Average Rating of 5 from 4 reviews: *****

I cannot describe the depth of enjoyment with which I am reading this book. I feel as if I have been walking with the characters. Their manner of speech has invaded my thinking. I wish I had more French and Latin to fully appreciate Reade's wit. What a scholar and genius this man must have been. We bought a couple of boxes of funny little books - parts of various sets including Dickens, Stephenson, Scott, Borrow, Carlyle - you know the type - from a charity shop for about R30/box, and this was among them. What a surprise and delight! I see there's another by Reade in there: It's Never Too Late to Mend. Nothing will induce me hurry through The Cloister but I'm eager to see what else Mr Reade has in store for me. My eye will be out for his works from now on.

Iris Mendez

This book stood unread and unloved on a dusty attic shelf for many years, until a few weeks ago when I finally decided to give it a chance. After the fist few pages I was absolutely riveted. It definitely qualifies as one of my all time favorites now. As the others have noted, Reade's scholarship is amazing and one is simply immersed in the Middle Ages. The characters are wonderfully drawn (I adore Denys) and while there is a great deal of pathos there are also parts that made me literally laugh out loud. This is simply a wonderful book and I wish I'd had the pleasure of discovering it earlier.

Stephen Ward

I agree entirely with this review. This is also a review of the reviewer who must be well read and well educated to appreciate this opus. This may be the best book I have ever read as well. I am still digesting it. The last 3 chapters had me blubbering like a little girl that lost her dolly. I have to admit I skipped 2 pages when the Hermit of Gouda was engaged in his self-created dark tea time of the soul; I was just too upset and angry with Clement/Gerard. I have read at least a book a month for the last 40 years of my life. The reasons this book has not been made into a movie are pretty obvious. Our society is just too shallow and untutoured to understand the depths of emotion and erudition in this book. One needs to have a fairly broad knowledge of theology, language, history and the arts to truly appreciate this masterpiece.

Anthony Whelan

This is the best novel I have ever read. I am now reading it for the third time- this time on my iphone. The down load is free from ibooks which is a part of itunes. I love Dickens, but Reade's romance is far superior. It is a beautiful love story full of twists and turns. I'm surprised that someone hasn't turned into a block buster, as it is far more entertaining than Tolkien's, Lewis's or Rowling's efforts. If you love language, particularly French, then there are treats sprinkled throughout, including Latin, German, Dutch, Italian and Greek. If you are interested in learning about Late Medieval life, then this is a story for you, a real page turner.

(Promote your book here)

Featured Books

Cover image for The Cloister and the Hearth by Charles Reade - Free eBook


True Alpha 1
Alisa Woods

Shifters in Seattle Desired (True Alpha 1) Ne... Read more

Cover image for The Cloister and the Hearth by Charles Reade - Free eBook

Open Minds

Mindjack Saga Book 1
Susan Kaye Quinn

When everyone reads minds, a secret is a danger... Read more

Cover image for The Cloister and the Hearth by Charles Reade - Free eBook

Rise of The Iron Eagle

The Iron Eagle Series Book 1
Roy A. Teel Jr.

Is The Iron Eagle a psychotic serial killer?Read more

Cover image for The Cloister and the Hearth by Charles Reade - Free eBook

XGeneration 1

You Don't Know Me (XGeneration Series)
Brad Magnarella

In the fall of 1984, Cold War tensions between... Read more

Cover image for The Cloister and the Hearth by Charles Reade - Free eBook

Drive, Ride, Repeat

The Mostly-True Account of a Cross-Country Car and Bicycle Adventure
Al Macy

Author Al Macy is a character and a tightwad wi... Read more

Cover image for The Cloister and the Hearth by Charles Reade - Free eBook

I Bring the Fire

Part I: Wolves (A Loki Story)
C. Gockel

In the middle of America, Amy Lewis is on her way... Read more

login | register

User ID


reset password

Help ManyBooks by sharing this page!

See it as donating a moment of your social media time, every little thing helps us improve and stay online.

Popular in This Genre

The list of books below is based on the weekly downloads by our users regardless of eReader device or file format.

The Art of War
by Sun Tzu
The American Republic
by O.A. Brownson
Forty-Six Years in the Army
by John M. Schofield
The Awakening of China
by W. A. P. Martin
Alexander the Great
by Jacob Abbott
Ambassador Morgenthau's Story
by Henry Morgenthau

See more popular titles from this genre.