PILLARS OF THE EARTH is one of those books one can really enjoy and will leave a memorable aftertaste long after the last page is turned.
The story is set in the middle ages (12th century) and starts in a stormy night full of death and new life, desperation and hope. It then follows the story of a stone-mason (Tom Builder) and his family in his efforts to continue building a cathedral (Kingsbridge) and, thus, carve out a living for his family.
The story, of course, also branches out into a number of interweaving stories, from the villainous lord William Hamleigh and pious Prior Phillip, to beautiful Aliena and Tom Builder's children and their own ambitions and schemes.
KEN FOLLETT is a well above average English writer (I would recommend also trying his NIGHT OVER WATER). If you have came across interviews of his declaring himself an atheist, do not let this discourage you from buying this book: he approaches a religious theme (the building of a cathedral by a monastery Prior) with respect and fairness.
Although not a masterpiece (and hardly a classic), PILLARS OF THE EARTH does occupy No.33 on the BBC's Big Read (a 2003 survey with the goal of finding England's Best-loved Book), just below Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude and above...Charles Dickens' David Copperfield (yeah, I know...) - which goes to show how much people are enjoying the easy narrative and interesting plot.
The book runs for almost 1,000 pages, so make sure to have some free time ahead before getting started.