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Sacred Hearts: A Novel [Paperback]

Sarah Dunant
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A glimpse into a cloistered world May 10 2010
I loved Sarah Dunant's "In the Company of the Courtesan" and I love this one, too. From high-class prostitutes to nuns - quite an about-face for this author, who can create a world that absorbs and entrances. I found the story worked because she neither idolized the sisters, nor evinced hatred for the Catholic Church. The book was balanced - there are good nuns and bad nuns, those who are spiritual and those who are more earthly, but no one is a particular villain or a saint.
I was especially moved by the story of the young woman who is put into the convent against her will because of a love affair of which her parents did not approve. Her torment is palpable, and so understandable. A small "cell" - a haven to a committed nun; a prison to a reluctant young woman. It was interesting to contemplate how a belief or an attitude transforms what a person encounters in life.
I found the characters well-drawn and believable. The ending is a bit "high romance" for my style (unlike the delightfully unsentimental - for the most part - courtesan), but the plot is gripping, and I felt as if the world I entered was valid and real, and that I learned from it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome! Aug. 27 2012
By Louise Jolly TOP 50 REVIEWER
Story Description:

Random House|June 10, 2011|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-4000-6382-6

The year is 1570, and in the convent of Santa Caterina, in the Italian city of Ferrara, noblewoman find space to pursue their lives under Gods' 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.

Ripped by her family from an illicit love affair, sixteen-year-old Serafina is wilful, emotional, sharp, and defiant - young enough to have a life to look forward to and old enough to know that life is being cut short. Her first night inside the walls is spent in incandescent rage so violent that the dispensary mistress, Suora Zuana, is dispatched to the girl's cell to sedate her. Thus begins a complex relationship of trust and betrayal between the young rebel and the clever, scholarly nun, for whom the girl becomes the daughter she will never have.

As Serafina rails against her incarceration, others are drawn into the drama, the ancienAt, mysterious Suora Magdalena - with her history of visions and ecstasies - locked in her cell, the ferociously devout novice mistress Suora Umilian, 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.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed March 23 2010
I loved Sarah Dunant's books The Birth of Venus and In the Company of the Courtesan. I bought this one in hardcover with great anticipation and was very disappointed. Although the description of the book sounded quite interesting, I couldn't get into the characters and it dragged for me. I found myself skimming. The ending did pick up however it took a good 300 pages before the story got a bit more exciting. I suspect most of her fans will be disappointed with this novel also.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars Sept. 18 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Enjoyed reading this book tremendously. The story line was very captivating.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another Page Turner!!!! Sept. 13 2011
Just finished Birth of Venus (excellent), and decided to give this a try too hoping it wouldn't disappoint. I couldn't put this one down either. I wouldn't have thought a story of life in a convent could be so riviting. The book is rich with life during the renaissance, and the co-heroines of the story are an unlikely pair. The reader can't help but get caught up in their struggles. Serafina's rebellious nature is captivating - and you can't help rooting for her.
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