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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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