Leslie Schweitzer Miller
The life of a nineteenth century priest has a profound effect on the future of a couple in 2012. Together, these intertwined stories will take you on the journey of DISCOVERY.
Abbé François Bérenger Saunière arrives in Rennes-le-Château in 1885 as impoverished as the remote mountain village itself. Inspired by the true story, this unconventional priest amasses a fortune, creates a magnificent estate and brings his ancient, crumbling Church of Saint Maria Magdalena to glory. During the renovation he unearths a first century urn containing two shocking documents–a parchment with grave consequences for his friend, Father Antoine Gélis, and a papyrus he feels morally bound to hide for safekeeping.
Dr. Giselle Gélis is resigned to living within the insular world of biblical scholarship until Dr. David Rettig, a gregarious American archeologist, bursts into her life in 2012. He’s more familiar with Shakespeare and poetry than the Gospels; she’s a pragmatist, he’s a dreamer–but it’s kismet, nonetheless. A trip across the south of France to learn more about her great-great-uncle’s life is transformed into a romantic sojourn, with nights spent in old castles and days devoted to atmospheric holy sites linked with Giselle’s heroine, Marie-Madeleine. The pièce de résistance of this idyllic week would have been exploring Rennes-le-Château and puzzling over the unsolved clues; instead, they stumble on the discovery of a lifetime.
As the threads of these stories intertwine, an intriguing and little known historical mystery is woven through a contemporary tale of sweeping emotional intensity, illuminating the complexities of human relationships–and the power of love.
I was kindly given an e-ARC of the book by NetGalley and the publisher in return for an honest review.
I have read so much about Mary Magdalene despite not being Christian that it’s kinda weird, if you ask me. It’s all because of Dan Brown novels, I think. Oh, well. Anyway, so I am somewhat familiar with the concept of Mary being married to Jesus.
Anyway, onto the review of the book. This book had such potential, mostly because of the way it’s presented in the summary itself. I was super intrigued by it, it sounded like the sort of book I would love to read and to a point, it was.
I loved reading about Saunière and the church of Rennes-le-Château, that part of the book was really interesting and made me want to read more. Saunière’s faith and his free thinking made him stand out and it was kinda fun to read it. The way he made sure that people did more than just follow the word, that they thought for themselves in a way that might have looked bad at the time. I loved that.
I even loved the actual discovery of the treasures, the way he had the power to decide whether to make them known or not. It was well done.
If there was one thing I didn’t like? I think, it would have to be the characters from 2013, I don’t know they just didn’t click for me. I think part of the problem was the fact that Giselle, as a scholar, was able to accept certain truths but the implications the truths brought about were too much for her. I think, as an atheist, I can’t really connect with that, perhaps. Her faith restricted her from accepting the truth and I really didn’t like it? For me, truth should accepted without any restriction, whether comfortable or not and yes, I am aware it sounds impractical. The thing is, though, that as a scholar, as someone who studied the religion itself, she should have been more open to the possibilities.
The faith puts a strain on her relationship with David as well, and well, there it did become a bit more interesting. If I am being honest, I think I really loved the parts with Father Saunière…those parts were enjoyable and truly interesting, the others not so much.
I would however recommend it to the fans of historical fiction, and mystery. It is enjoyable and I am sure most of you wouldn’t be put off by the things I was put off by. I mean, seriously, it’s a good book. So, if you are thinking of picking it up, please do. Give it a chance!