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Read Death Comes As Epiphany (2002)

Death Comes As Epiphany (2002)

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3.94 of 5 Votes: 2
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0765303744 (ISBN13: 9780765303745)
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Death Comes As Epiphany (2002) - Plot & Excerpts

A quick look (not necessarily exhaustive or complete) through the list of those who have read this book on shows that I may be the only person of male gender to have read this book. Hmmm, Oh well, I enjoyed it anyway. It's a murder mystery, historical novel (12th Century France), romance and thriller all rolled into one. However, the medieval setting gives the book a mood and tone that will never be found in a modern mystery-romance-thriller novel. It helps for the reader to be familiar with the story of Abélard and Héloïse before reading this book. Otherwise, you'll miss the significance of some things in the book. One twist to this story I found noteworthy; The body of the murdered victim literally falls down on top of the story's heroine while she's walking across a courtyard at night. Talk about a mystery being thrust upon you! She had no choice but to become a 12th Century sleuth and try to solve the mystery. She has several more narrow escapes before the story finally reaches a conclusion. I think the ending will not be anticipated by most readers.This book is first in a series of ten books in the Catherine LeVendeur series written by Sharan Newman. I had previously read the sixth book in the series, and I decided I needed to read the first one to get a better understanding of the characters. I'm not sure I'll have time to read all the books in the series anytime soon. A complete list of the books in this series is listed at the end of this review.I noticed that the author has written an errata that acknoledges and explains some historical inaccuracies in the book. (Note, the website where the errata used to be located is no longer active.) Only a well trained scholar of medieval history would care about the level of detail that she explains there. The story is fictional, but what we're talking about here are details contained in the story that don't fit into 12th Century life. No movie producer has ever worried about this sort of problem. Speaking of historical details, this book has details that the most creative writer of fiction would never dream up. Apparently dried moss was used then (at least by some) for toilet paper. Who would have known such a thing. I can just image the author with this tidbit of historical trivia trying to find a place in the story to mention it.Here's my favorite quote from the book:"Catherine Le Vendeur," he asked sententiously, "have you known this man carnally?" "No father," Catherine answered. "But, with your kind permission, I would very much like to." Now that is the level of sexual explicitness that I can feel comfortable with.List of books in the Catherine LeVendeur series:1. Death Comes As Epiphany 2. The Devil's Door3. The Wandering Arm4. Strong As Death 5. Cursed in the Blood 6. The Difficult Saint7. To Wear The White Cloak8. Heresy: A Catherine LeVendeur Mystery 9. The Outcast Dove 10. The Witch in the Well

Catherine LeVendeur is a young scholar come to conquer her sin of pride at the Convent of the Paraclete, a convent famous for learning and prayer, and its abbess, the fabled Heloise.When a manuscript that the convent produced for the great Abbé Suger disappears, rumors surface that the book contains sacrilegious passages and will be used to condemn Heloise's famous lover, Peter Abelard.To save her Order and protect all she holds dear, Catherine must find the manuscript and discover who has altered the text. She will risk disgrace, the wrath of family and the Church, and confront an evil older than Time itself -- and, if she isn't careful, lose her immortal soul. (cover blurb)A serendipitous purchase. I was in the middle of the SF section at Barnes & Noble and found this misshelved medieval mystery (accidental alliteration, honest). A wonderful story set in 12th Century France, involving Heloise and Abelard, and 12th century politics -- a favorite subject of mine -- full of atmosphere and larger-than-life characters, and no shortage of period detail.Catherine LeVendeur is a lively creation, intelligent, spunky, headstrong, and fully engaging of the reader's sympathies. She complies with the request of her abbess, Heloise, to return home in apparent disgrace and investigate the circumstances of the psalter, and retrieve it if necessary. Since Catherine herself had prepared the psalter, she is best suited to determine if it had, indeed, been altered.Catherine's return home sets off an unforeseen chain of events: murder, attempted murder, political and family intrigue, plus a little romance keep the story moving along at a brisk pace.Along with its rollicking storyline, the book serves as a vivid reminder of how pervasive the Church was in earlier centuries, how much sway a2nd influence it held over people in the course of their daily lives -- not so much over the poorest of the poor, who were far more concerned with staying alive than with saving their immortal souls, but over the shopkeepers, the middle class and the gentry, who at the very least paid lip service to the Church, and, at their most devout, worried about the consequences of every minor transgression.The first of a series of medieval mysteries, and well worth reading. I look forward to learning more about Mademoiselle LeVendeur.

What do You think about Death Comes As Epiphany (2002)?

There's so much more of a gamble making your main character a young unmarried woman in a time when women had few rights and if they came from families with money, their movements were even more restricted. Catherine has been living in an abbey for 3 years with the intention of becoming a nun. Her Mother Superior asks her to pretend to leave the abbey in disgrace to track down a book the abbey produced in honor of a controversial religious figure. Its been rumored that this book has been defaced or altered to bring even more censure upon the controversial religious figure as well as the abbey. So right off the bat we have a big problem. The Mother Superior is so without male supporters that she has to ask a novitiate to sacrifice her family's honor to go get a book? The MOther Superior is friends with the controversial religious figure who is a teacher to many many young men. Surely it would make a lot more sense to involve this guy who has the freedom of his gender to go figure this all out. There's a couple of obvious lapses of logic related to the main character being a young single woman from a wealthy family. At one point, reliable and moral people looking out for Catherine's welfare leave her alone with a man about her age who they don't know in a basement for hours while they try to get a message to her father. I'm sorry but exactly how would that go over with her father??!!? These lapses took me out of the story too often. If you want your main character to be a plucky young novitiate/bloodhound, then make her a modern woman or keep the story in the abbey or within her family.If you really like this kind of story, go read Cora Harrison. Set in Ireland in a time long ago, when women actually held positions of power. The main character is a brehon - a woman of learning, judgment and the respect of her county and the author backs up her main character's actions with information on Irish law and custom. It's truly fascinating and fun.

This medieval mystery has a modern slant. Not in an obnoxious way, but in its writing: thankfully it's not written in some pretend version of Olde English (which I've encountered in other novels). It is a little anachronistic but much less irritating than the occasional 'twas and thee and so forth to give it that medieval flavor.It wasn't the best as a mystery, though the twist was a bit of a surprise (not a huge one, but something of one), but the characters are nicely drawn and those who are supposed to be likable are. For the most part. The setting is extremely well-drawn (or at least seems to be for someone who doesn't know much about medieval France). It's an enjoyable bit of mystery fluff for those times when you want light reading.
—Wendy Kobylarz-Chouvarda

I adore ecclesiastical mysteries. It began with with the Brother Cadfael series and ran wild from there.This book had two things going for it: an amazing heroine, and a. beautifully layered mystery. Catherine would be right at home alongside Galileo' s daughters. She's that rarity in the medieval world: intelligent *and* educated. Her piety is somewhat underdeveloped,, but the true lure of the convent for Catherine lay in books: reading writing, assembling. And it is a book that lands Catherine in a world of trouble, religious politics, family politics, secrets, murder...and perhaps even worldly love.Catherine's voice may be too "modern" for some readers, and the tangle of alliances can be tough to track. I thought I'd figured out the mystery early on, and will happily confess to having landed a juicy red herring instead. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and the development of the characters. I would've enjoyed a little more depth all around, but for the first book of a series, it has plenty of hooks raises lots of questions, but ends well. A reader could stop with this book and be satisfied, or move on to the other titles.Guess which options. I chose?

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