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As Serafina rails against her incarceration, others are drawn into the drama: the ancient, mysterious Suora Magdalena - with her history of visions and ecstasies - locked in her cell; the ferociously devout novice mistress Suora Umiliana, who comes to see in the postulant a way to extend her influence; and, watching it all, the abbess, Madonna Chiara, a woman as fluent in politics as she is in prayer. As disorder and rebellion mount, it is the abbess's job to keep the convent stable while, outside its walls, the dictates of the Counter-Reformation begin to purge the Catholic Church and impose on the nunneries a regime of terrible oppression.
Sarah Dunant, the best-selling author of The Birth of Venus and In the Company of the Courtesan, brings this intricate Renaissance world compellingly to life. Amid Sacred Hearts is a rich, engrossing, multifaceted love story, encompassing the passions of the flesh, the exultation of the spirit, and the deep, enduring power of friendship.
"Her painstaking portrait of this world, both its delights and its privations, is part of the pleasure of her story. ... Dunant's masterful portrait of both a time and a troubled adolescent's struggles builds the tension, as both the fate of Serafina and of the convent's way of life hangs in the balance." ( Seattle Times)
"The story becomes a gripping thriller played out against a political battle between rival factions among the nuns. ... Dunant, wisely opting for modern dialogue rather than cod-Renaissance, heartbreakingly imparts the dread claustrophobia of a life sentence for girls who've barely begun to live." ( Daily Mail, UK)
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By connie on 10-09-09
Don't expect Ken Follett
Instead of church architecture, this period novel explores spiritual architecture - and without the vivid violence or sex of a "Pillars". Neither is it chiefly a romantic love story as the publisher's blurb could suggest. I'm vacillating between 4 and 5 stars - While it's not a GREAT novel and the narration did grate on my ears in a couple of places, once I listened long enough to get the author's rhythm, it was 1. a darn good read 2. original 3. in an odd way topical, given the curent Vatican "visitation" of N. American religious orders 4. helps answer why there is not more female composed Renaisance church music in existance and 5. gives some credit to the genius walled up (voluntarily or otherwise) in those medieval and Renaisance convents = 5 stars (but don't expect a page turner)
14 of 14 people found this review helpful
By Bellzon on 01-22-10
This is a wonderful story that says a lot about the relationships between women. The historical background, in the book, is an added bonus. All the characters are well developed by the author. I felt as though I knew each one intimately by the book's end. Anyone interested in the history of women, cloistered nuns and who enjoys a love story that takes place on many levels will enjoy this book.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful