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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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1,1321077,240 (3.82)110
Member:afetch
Title:Sacred Hearts
Authors:Sarah Dunant
Info:Virago Press Ltd (2009), Edition: Export ed, Hardcover, 480 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant (2009)

16th century (52) 2009 (12) 2010 (8) ARC (25) audio (7) British (8) Catholicism (11) convent (72) convent life (8) Counter-Reformation (7) Ferrara (8) fiction (153) historical (35) historical fiction (157) historical novel (9) history (7) Italy (117) Kindle (8) novel (20) nuns (65) read (12) read in 2009 (12) read in 2010 (10) religion (30) Renaissance (32) romance (8) to-read (47) unread (12) wishlist (7) women (28)
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    Lying Awake by Mark Salzman (derelicious)
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    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.
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    The Miracles of Prato [MIRACLES OF PRATO] [Hardcover] by Laurie(Author) Laurie(Author) ; Albanese Albanese (saratoga99)
    saratoga99: Another example of once wealthy families without sufficent dowries who sent daughters to convents.
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Showing 1-5 of 108 (next | show all)
A satisfactory conclusion to Dunant's (unrelated) Renaissance trilogy. I've often enjoyed stories set in a cloistered community, so this one appealed on a number of levels and didn't disappoint. ( )
  GingerCrinkle | May 17, 2014 |
Possibly if I hadn't had a thick head, I might have enjoyed this more, but a stinking cold and a book that's quite dense and intricate is probably not the best combination. Before going too much further, it is worth noting that at this time the dowry a young woman was expected to bring with her meant that for many families they could only afford to marry one daughter to a family of suitable status, any others were offered to the church as a nun - not always by their choice. Set in an Italian nunnery in the late 1500s, this is the story of two women; Zuana was a reluctant nun, but in the 16 years since her entry into the convent, she's herself a niche as the dispensary mistress and Serafina, who was not chosen for marriage by the eligible bachelor, but was not allowed to marry the singing teacher (not of sufficient status) and hence has been forced into the nunnery by her family. She causes uproar in the convent from the first, and her presence acts as a catalyst for the internal politics in the nunnery.
The resolution is maybe a little far-fetched, but does satisfactorily tie up all the strands of the story. I suspect I might have liked this better had I not been on a deadline to read it and had a clearer head (I kept getting some of the names mixed up in my head) ( )
  Helenliz | Apr 1, 2014 |
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. ( )
  Pattymclpn | Mar 26, 2014 |
I have always been intrigued by the somewhat mystical world of the Catholic church, and the lives of nuns, and so Sarah Dunant delivers in Sacred Hearts. Both Serafina and Zuana are incredibly strong, smart women who find their places amid the turbulent and severely patriarchal Renaissance times. Dunant manages to make the world of the convent come alive, connecting the world then to now in the friendships, gossip and drama that comes with living with only women. It really is a wonderfully told story, multifaceted and passionate in only a way that Sarah Dunant can deliver. ( )
1 vote morgtini | Mar 4, 2014 |
When a particularly defiant novice, Serafina, is forced to join the convent of Santa Caterina, dispensary mistress Suora Zuana is sent to sedate her. Thus begins a friendship between two women living in a 16th century Italian convent. The descriptions of daily life are exquisitely detailed and often painfully direct. One of Dunant's greatest talents is her ability to create multifaceted female characters who remained rooted in the time period in which they live, not anachronistically updated to fit contemporary sensibilities. If you enjoyed Dunant's other historical novels, you'll probably like this one. I did. ( )
1 vote melydia | Feb 23, 2014 |
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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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