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The Cloister by James Carroll

The Cloister

by James Carroll

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I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley.

A stunning book, beautifully written. Carroll brings to life the story of Abelard and Heloise, but not to focus on the tragic nature of their romance, which resulted in Abelard's brutal castration. No, he depicts the love that arises when two brilliant people come together, each feeding the other's brilliance. The result of that love echoes through the centuries to change the lives of two people in New York City in the aftermath of World War II: a Catholic priest, left staggered by the return of a friend from his youth, as he realizes his own poignant isolation in the clergy; and a young woman, a Jew from France whose father studied the texts of Abelard, and essentially died for it during the war.

There are layers upon layers here. This book is not a melodrama. It's about nuance. It's about people being people. It's about surviving, at great cost. It's about losing God, and finding him again. It's about the history of Catholicism and Judaism, and how churches--like people--have a difficult time realizing their errors or making an effort to correct them.

This is a book that will haunt me, in the best sort of way. I am left with a profound need to not only read more about Abelard and Heloise, but to look for more of James Carroll's work. ( )
  ladycato | Sep 30, 2017 |
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