Sacred Hearts

I,ve just finished  Sacred Hearts and have enjoyed it. This is surprising as I am not a historical fiction fan and would not have chosen a Sarah Dunnant read.

I did feel sucked in from the start by the four main characters, who were so skillfully drawn and believable, even in the bizarre world of an enclosed order which is so alien to today,s society..My favorite character is Madonna Chiara who walks the tightrope of convent politics so cleverly. She is devout but worldly. On page 394 comments, “She is only a young woman who did not want to be a nun. The world is full of them.” In other words, it,s tough but that,s how things are, just get on with it!

I did find the happy ending rather far fetched; would that actually have happened? Even with the threat of change decreed by the Council of Trent and all the internal politics going on, I doubt it. I think Serafina would have come to a much stickier end.

It is interesting that half of all young well born women were forced into the religious life which must have been hellish whether or not you had a calling. It does show how little women were valued; seen only as a commodity and allowed no choices. When Isabetta offers to take a smaller dowry to marry her music teacher, “Her father,s fury had torn the tapestries off the wall”, and she was beaten almost senseless..Yet, nuns were respected by the populous who didn,t care that they were forced into the life. Very strange.

Need something a bit more cheery next time.


Gill’s missing post

Hi, have started the Yacoubian Building and found the range of characters a bit disconcerting….had to keep referring to the list at the front. Very considerate of the author to supply this! I,ve now got to page 83 and am enjoying it. The culture is well observed, disturbing, but comical,and it is not surprising that the book caused consternation in the Arab world.It portrays a hierarchical society where woman are subjugated,but learn to play the game to keep their jobs.
I do find it sad but hilarious at the same time. Love the volatile relationship between Zaki Bey and his sister. Zaki is my favourite character”…love the paragraph on p63 when he had removed his false teeth to kiss the Beloved! Then she robbed him!
Looking forward to the rest of the book.



I felt quite hesitant about tackling this book after comments from friends….disturbing , harrowing etc,!….but once i,d started it, I did get “sucked in” to Eva,s story.I see the book as much about family relationships and and the society in which we are raising children, as a story about motherhood. The narrator leaves so many unanswered questions….as all good authors do…mainly the “nature versus nurture” debate. How much was Kevin influenced by the odd, confrontational relationship with his mother, starting in the womb, and the complicated power struggle type marriage of his parents! Did the jealousy of Eva for Franklin,s affections fuel Kevin,s own jealousy… this why he killed his father and sister to punish Eva? Why did Franklin ignore all the psycotic signs….did he perhaps feel that he was in control of the marriage after the arrival of Kevin, using him as an emotional weapon!

My feeling is that Kevin was born with the tendencey to be “bad” and that the influences of his family and society in general were a lethal mix and tipped him over the edge! After all, many children are born unwanted or disappoint the unrealistic ambitions of their parents but don,t turn into mass murderers!

A chilling story and ,sadly, topical!


‘The newest Simenon’ page 21

I was curious who Simenon was so looked him up after reading on page 21 -‘ I’d been to a movie,come home, and gone to bed with a bourbon nightcap and the newest Simenon: so much my idea of comfort…’

Belgian author – the likeliest book being, in 1943, Inspector Cadaver. – a glimpse into Fred’s character – Simenon a prolific writer and gossip columnist 200 novels – seems like sensational, light reading – in trouble for collaborating with Germans in Paris in 1940s – although some say he was just an opportunist.


Simenon, Belgian author.




pg 15 Joe Bell grabs ‘Fred’ as he’s leaving the bar – ‘Do you believe it?’ The narrator can’t remember the Africa story but can remember the image ‘of her riding away on a horse’. The Autumnal scene of the first chapter seems to suggest a passing, as if the light and warmth of Holly presence is passing into Autumn – – suggestion of death, decay. I get the feeling that when the writer uses the technique of flashback to present the past in the present tense, it’s spring and summertime.

NB> In Eng. Lit studies the use of weather to reflect a mood is called pathetic fallacy. Has the author intended this mood of Autumn to suggest decay? – or  seeing I guess with only 100 pages to work with Capote means every word to carry immediate effect. 

‘but now the leaves were yellowed and mostly down.’