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The Priest's Madonna by Amy Hassinger
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0399153179, Hardcover)For readers of The Birth of Venus, Girl with a Pearl Earring, and The Other Boleyn Girl, a historically lush, lyrical, and thoroughly enthralling novel about the forbidden love between a woman and a holy man and the moral and spiritual struggles of faith.
In 1896, the priest in a small village in southern France suddenly came into possession of immense wealth. This much is true. What no one knows for sure is where his money came from. The history of the region suggests that he may have stumbled upon clues to a hidden treasure of the Knights Templar. An even more tantalizing possibility is that he discovered coded documents hidden in the structure of his church, documents so threatening to the Catholic Church that he was paid to keep silent. At his death under mysterious circumstances in 1917, his secrets died with him.
Yet there is one other person who may have known all-Marie Dernanaud, the priest's housekeeper and, some say, his lover. Interweaving the history of France at the turn of the twentieth century, scenes of ancient Judea, and the romantic and religious journey of a spirited and intense heroine, The Priest's Madonna gives Marie a chance to tell her version of what transpired-as well as her own story of belief, doubt, and illicit passion.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:03 -0400)
"In 1884 in southern France, sixteen-year-old Marie Denarnaud's family is forced to move when their house burns to the ground. They find a new home in nearby Rennes-le-Chateau, a beautiful village set among hills steeped in history - from stories of a Visigothic presence in the Dark Ages, to tales of Cathar heretics who may have fled crusaders through rumors of gold buried in the caves that perforate the hillsides." "Marie and her family face a chilly welcome in Rennes until the day a new parish priest is assigned to the village. By coincidence, the charismatic young priest is a friend of Marie's mother, and because his presbytery is in ruins, Berenger Sauniere takes up temporary residence with the Denarnauds. Young Marie is enthralled by the passionate Berenger, and she revels in his priestly attention, though heavily conflicted by her own growing attraction to him." "Meanwhile, Berenger has attracted the patronage of a wealthy aristocrat who is willing to fund reconstruction of the church. His only condition is the Berenger keep an eye out for anything unusual he might find. Marie begins to suspect that the request has to do with the local legend of a woman who claimed to be descended from the bloodline of Jesus Christ from Mary Magdalene. Berenger grows secretive, even as their affection deepens, and Marie must seek the truth without his help." "The Priest's Madonna blends fact and fiction. Interweaving scenes of ancient Judea with the spiritual journey of a vibrant and intense heroine, it tells a tale of faith, doubt, forbidden love."--BOOK JACKET.
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