Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Book Review: The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers


Media Type: Audio Book
Title: The Cleaner of Chartres
Author: Salley Vickers
Publisher: Viking
Pages: Hardcover; 304
Release Date: June 27, 2013
Source: NetGalley
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Genre: Historical Fiction

HDB Rating: 2 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy slow moving historical fiction that has a very psychology heavy bend.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
From the author of Miss Garnet’s Angel, a story of the redemptive power of love and community in the famous French cathedral town

There is something very special about Agnès Morel. A quiet presence in the small French town of Chartres, she can be found cleaning the famed medieval cathedral each morning and doing odd jobs for the townspeople. No one knows where she came from or why. Not Abbé Paul, who discovered her one morning twenty years ago, sleeping on the north porch, and not Alain Fleury, the irreverent young restorer who works alongside her each day and whose attention she catches with her tawny eyes and elusive manner. She has transformed each of their lives in her own subtle way, yet no one suspects the dark secret Agnès is hiding.

When an accidental encounter dredges up a series of tragic incidents from Agnès’s youth, the nasty meddling of town gossips threatens to upend the woman’s simple, peaceful life. Her story reveals a terrible loss, a case of mistaken identity, and a cruel and violent act that haunts her past. Agnès wrestles with her own sense of guilt and enduring heartbreak while the citizens piece together the truth about her life.

I started out this book a little shaky, since I don't generally read a lot of Historical Fiction. However Agnes soon became a likable enough character that I was engaged. Although this isn't the quickest moving story, and perhaps it has more featured characters than necessary, I still found myself connected enough to Agnes that I wanted to finish this story. Her backstory unfolded a bit at a time and, even though I was fairly sure I knew where things were going, I wanted to see if I was right. I'll give Salley Vickers credit in that she created a very relatable and human character in Agnes. Her mistakes and successes were a beautiful thing.

What kept me from fully falling in love with this book though was how much it hopped back and forth in time, with little to no notice. I listened to the audio version of this, and so it made it even more difficult to get my footing every time we were thrown back to the days of young Agnes. On top of that, as the book neared its end, I felt myself becoming less and less interested in where things were headed. Agnes felt like she stalled in her growth as a person, and then the ending itself was far less than satisfactory. In fact, and this is coming from a reader who is very open minded, the ending left me with some really uncomfortable moral quandaries. I'm still not sure how I feel.

So, for a plot that kept my attention for the most part, a character whom I did enjoy, and a narrator who did a fairly good job, I'll give this two stars. I finished this book, and it was interesting journey. I just wouldn't read it again.


FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

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