Cover image for Avignon
Calmann, Marianne.
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Publication Information:
London : Allison & Busby, 1999.
Physical Description:
447 pages ; 20 cm
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Avignon in 1346 is thriving. Pope Clement VI, removed from Rome, presides over a city notable for its harmony, its tolerance and its wealth. At a time when anti-Semitic feelings are running high in Europe, Clement offers protection to the Jews. Avignon follows the fortunes of a family from the city's Jewish ghetto-Blanchette, a beautiful, headstrong girl, her brilliant brother-in-law, Thoros, and her gossipy, meddling mother, Lea. And their lives are inextricably linked with those of Avignon's Christians-beguiling Gui, nubile page to the Pope's favourite cardinal, Saint-Amant, the city's most notorious womanizer, and the gentle, conflicted Pope himself. Births and deaths, love and enmity, the Jews and Christians of Avignon are equally caught up in the life and tensions of the city. But old ties are tested when the Black Death arrives in Avignon and the inhabitants of this once prosperous city find themselves locked in a desperate and heart-rending battle for survival against all odds.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Calmann presents a medieval melodrama that offers an intriguing peek at symbiotic, and often deeply personal, relationships between Jews and Christians. It is 1346; Pope Clement VI rules the Roman Catholic Church from Avignon, and the whole city flourishes. Jews and Christians maintain separate existences until the Pope becomes ill. Thoros, a doctor from the Jewish ghetto, is summoned to treat him, and their lives become entwined. After his unusual house call, Thoros falls ill in the Christian part of the city. Left for dead, he miraculously recovers but is left with amnesia. At the same time, his brother, Astruc, also disappears, leaving his beautiful wife, Blanchette, alone. But she is more concerned about her brother-in-law's disappearance than her husband's because she has always loved Thoros. A man is sent by the Pope to pay the doctor's fee. He meets Blanchette and lusts after her, but all the soap opera aspects of Calmann's lively and revealing plot are put on hold by the plague. --Patty Engelmann