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Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant
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Sacred Hearts (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Sarah Dunant

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1,2831166,116 (3.82)127
Member:afetch
Title:Sacred Hearts
Authors:Sarah Dunant
Info:Virago Press Ltd (2009), Edition: Export ed, Hardcover, 480 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant (2009)

  1. 10
    Cry to Heaven by Anne Rice (kraaivrouw)
  2. 00
    Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth (charl08)
    charl08: Similar theme Italy, forced entry to a convent and women's battle for independence.
  3. 00
    The Sixteen Pleasures by Robert Hellenga (VenusofUrbino)
  4. 00
    The Miracles of Prato [MIRACLES OF PRATO] [Hardcover] by Laurie Albanese (saratoga99)
    saratoga99: Another example of once wealthy families without sufficent dowries who sent daughters to convents.
  5. 00
    Mariana by Katherine Vaz (Sakerfalcon)
    Sakerfalcon: Another historical tale of a woman who enters a convent against her will. Mariana is set in Portugal, and is based on possible historical fact.
  6. 00
    Lying Awake by Mark Salzman (derelicious)
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» See also 127 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 115 (next | show all)
I thought this book was very well written,I had selected it because I had seen it recommended on the waterstones website and had really enjoyed The Birth Of Venus. I felt that she really gave you a good insight into what life was like for women in the 16th century and what life was like in a convent then.

What I learned from this book is that I'm really glad I wasn't a woman in 16th century Italy,or anywhere else for that matter as I don't suppose the situation was any better for women in the rest of the world.

Basically it all boils down to you are my daughter therefore you are my property and I can do what I like,if that means marrying you to the most hideous man available or forcing you into a convent then that is the way it's going to be. ( )
  KarenDuff | Jun 1, 2016 |
Sacred Hearts – Sarah Dunant
Audio version by Rosalyn Landor
4 stars

A surprising amount of intrigue and drama can take place inside the walls of a 16th century Italian convent. The convent of Santa Caterina in Ferrara is hive of activity. The emotional outbursts of the newest novice disturb the convent’s peace,while the religious and political repercussions of the counter reformation threaten convent traditions from within and without. As the dispensary mistress, Suora Zuana is charged with the responsibility for Novice Serafina’s health and emotional well-being. The Abbess, Madonna Chiara has the responsibility for maintaining the convent’s reputation and the delicate balance conventional life.

I would not make a very good nun. Like Serafina, I’d find it impossible to view the convent as anything other than a prison. Sarah Dunant does a very good job of presenting another perspective. The historical detail of this book is very rich. Although it is set entirely within the convent walls, Dunant gives a clear picture of Italian life outside the enclosure. The lives of women are constrained outside the convent as well as inside. Madonna Chiara is engaged in a subtle fight for those freedoms still allowed within the convent walls. She will not allow one unhappy novice to interfere with the convent’s viability. Suara Zuana takes a physician’s view and places the well-being of her patient above other considerations. The resolution of the conflict made me smile; unlikely, but satisfying.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
A closed society of its own--a 16th century Italian convent of Benedictines set in the tumultuous times of Counter Reformation. Women didn't have much option in those days--marriage to someone of the father's choosing, as a "maiden aunt" in the bosom of the extended family or life immured in a convent. We meet Serafina, a novice who entered unwillingly; she said the vows of novitiate with her mouth, "not her heart." We see the infirmarian, Zuana, who takes the young girl under her wing as the daughter she will never have and realizes she is not nun-material; the politically-wise abbess, Madonna Chiara; the mystic Magdalena, the power-hungry and controlling novice mistress, Umiliana [sardonic name--"humility"] and others. We live their life of work and prayer with them and suffer their upheavals and crises.

I liked the very unexpected twists and turns in this story of women with normal emotions--love and jealousy. The author imbued her characters with strong, often clashing personalities. As well as well-written, the story felt well-researched.

Highly recommended. I thought this one of the author's best novels. ( )
  janerawoof | Feb 1, 2016 |
Religion is very personal, and, very volatile. This book opened my eyes further to the religious orders of the 16th century. While the story is fictional, Dunant researched the book well, and wove a tale that could be believed to occur, or at least in some aspects, should have. The reality is clear enough - some of it difficult to digest. It is, however a nice balance.
I enjoyed reading this book, although it is an advance reader's edition and I found a few typos; which I don't think I've ever encountered. ( )
  jenngv | Jun 25, 2015 |
This novel grows on you. It takes place completely inside the convent of Saint Catarina in 1570.
At times it moves somewhat slowly and is top heavy with religious language. Still, it draws you in and paints such a lovely, detailed picture of convent life that I found quite intriguing. I just had to keep reading. This is the strength of Sarah Dunant's writing. ( )
  Smits | Feb 24, 2015 |
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Before the screaming starts, the night silence of the convent is already alive with its own particular sounds.
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Book description
In 16th-century Italy, the convents are filled with the daughters of noblemen who are unable or unwilling to pay a dowry to marry them off. The Santa Caterina convent's newest novice, Serafina, is miserable, having been shunted off by her father to separate her from a forbidden romance. She also has a singing voice that will be the glory of the convent and—more importantly to some—a substantial bonus for the convent's coffers. The convent's apothecary, Suora Zuana, strikes up a friendship with Serafina, enlisting her as an assistant in the convent dispensary and herb garden, but despite Zuana's attempts to help the girl adjust, Serafina remains focused on escaping. Serafina's constant struggle and her faith (of a type different from that common to convents) challenge Zuana's worldview and the political structure of Santa Caterina. A cast of complex characters breathe new life into the classic star-crossed lovers trope while affording readers a look at a facet of Renaissance life beyond the far more common viscounts and courtesans. Dunant's an accomplished storyteller, and this is a rich and rewarding novel.

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The year is 1570, and in the convent of Santa Caterina, in the Italian city of Ferrara, noblewomen find space to pursue their lives under God's protection. But any community, however smoothly run, suffers tremors when it takes in someone by force. And the arrival of Santa Caterina's new novice sets in motion a chain of events that will shake the convent to its core.… (more)

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