Cover image for Holy fools
Title:
Holy fools
Author:
Harris, Joanne, 1964-
Personal Author:
Edition:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
Thorndike, Me. : Center Point Pub., [2004]

©2004
Physical Description:
384 pages ; 23 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781585474264
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

With her internationally bestselling novels Chocolat, Blackberry Wine, Five Quarters of the Orange, and Coastliners, Joanne Harris has woven intoxicating spells that celebrate the sensuous while exposing the passion, secrets, and folly beneath the surface of rustic village life. In Holy Fools, her most ambitious and accomplished novel to date, she transports us back to a time of intrigue and turmoil, of deception and masquerade. In the year 1605, a young widow, pregnant and alone, seeks sanctuary at the small Abbey of Sainte Marie-de-la-mer on the island of Noirs Moustiers off the Brittany coast. After the birth of her daughter, she takes up the veil, and a new name, Soeur Auguste. But the peace she has found in remote isolation is shattered five years later by the events that follow the death of her kind benefactress, the Reverend Mother. When a new abbess -- the daughter of a corrupt noble family elevated by the murder of King Henri IV -- arrives at Sainte Marie-de-la-mer, she does not arrive alone. With her is her personal confessor and spiritual guide, Pere Colombin, a man Soeur Auguste knows all too well. For the newcomer is Guy LeMerle, a charlatan and seducer now masquerading as a priest, and the one man she fears more than any other. Soeur Auguste has a secret. Once she was l'Ailee, "The Winged One," star performer of a troupe led by LeMerle, before betrayal forced her to change her identity. But now the past has found her. Before long, thanks' to LeMerle, suspicion and debauchery are breeding like a plague within the convent's walls -- fueled by dark rumors of witchcraft, part of the false priest's brilliantly orchestrated scheme of revenge. To protect herself and ber beloved child, l'Ailee will have to perform one last act of dazzling daring more audacious than any she has previously attempted. Book jacket.


Author Notes

Joanne Harris was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire, England on July 3, 1964. She studied Modern and Mediaeval Languages at St Catharine's College, Cambridge. While working as a teacher for fifteen years, she published three novels: The Evil Seed (1989), Sleep, Pale Sister (1993) and Chocolat (1999), which was made into a film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. Her other works include Blackberry Wine, Five Quarters of the Orange, Coastliners, Holy Fools, The Lollipop Shoes and Runemarks. She also co-wrote two cookbooks with cookery writer Fran Warde: The French Kitchen and The French Market.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Juliette, L'Ailee the Flying Harpy, Soeur Auguste: the central voice in this mesmerizing tale from the author of Chocolat (1999) and Five Quarters of the Orange (2001) has many names to match her many roles. They unfold slowly: she is in a seventeenth-century convent with her small daughter, hiding from a demon lover and her past as a dancer upon the rope. The convent, cut off by the tides twice a day from the mainland of France, is a hothouse of desire, ignorance, and woe, and into it comes a new abbess and her confessor. The abbess is barely more than a child, and the confessor isuliette's lover, LeMerle the Blackbird, once again in brilliant disguise. The counterpoint between his evilly twisted manipulations ofuliette and her fellow sisters anduliette's frantic working-out of just what he is doing and why--always colored by her desire for him--forms a seamless braid of first-person narratives. Harris' usual command of sense description does not fail her, ever, but the breathtaking denouement is marred by LeMerle's unremitting and soulless viciousness. --GraceAnne DeCandido Copyright 2003 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

"Love not often, but forever" is an adage with dangerous implications for Juliette, a gypsy acrobat in 17th-century France who strives to balance her wild yearnings with her hard-won wisdom in this passionate novel from the author of Chocolat and Five Quarters of the Orange. Harris gave hints in the latter novel of a darker sensibility, and she fully indulges that inclination here, broodingly exploring the mechanics of mass hysteria and the clash between the desires of the flesh and spiritual cravings. Juliette's involving narration alternates with the amoral reflections of her rogue lover, Guy LeMerle, the Blackbird ("He lived on perpetual credit and never went to church"). LeMerle is the leader of Juliette's troupe, which is disbanded after a clash with a town's authorities; at the same time, LeMerle abandons the pregnant Juliette, who is persecuted as a witch. Five years later, Juliette, now called Soeur Auguste, and her daughter, Fleur, have found refuge at the Abbey of Sainte-Marie-de-la-mer on the Brittany coast. Then LeMerle arrives at the abbey disguised as Father Confessor to the newly appointed abbess, Isabelle, a preternaturally severe girl of 12 whose uncle happens to be LeMerle's nemesis, the bishop of ?vreux. Isabelle causes Fleur to be removed from the abbey, and while Juliette struggles to get her back, LeMerle manipulates the nuns into believing Satan has their convent in thrall, in a complicated plot to revenge himself on the bishop. This fictional cassoulet suggests Aldous Huxley's nonfiction work The Devils of Loudun, with "demonically" possessed nuns caught in a web of sexual repression and political and religious oppression during an era of upheaval in France. Harris adds spicy characterizations, tart dark humor and seductively pungent prose, and poses some provocative questions: can 65 nuns be so easily misled? why does Juliette find herself drawn to such a selfish man? The title supplies an answer with almost unholy glee. (Feb. 3) Forecast: Readers looking for another Chocolat will be disappointed, but those who appreciate Harris's storytelling skills and enjoy fiction with a gothic twist will love this. Eight-city author tour. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

In 17th-century France, former rope-dancer Juliette becomes Soeur Auguste to protect herself and her daughter, but of course her good fortune can't last. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Holy Fools A Novel Chapter One July 3rd, 1610 It begins with the players. Seven of them, six men and a girl, she in sequins and ragged lace, they in leathers and silk. All of them masked, wigged, powdered, painted; Arlequin and Scaramouche and the long-nosed Plague Doctor, demure Isabelle and the lecherous Géronte, their gilded toenails bright beneath the dust of the road, their smiles whitened with chalk, their voices so harsh and so sweet that from the first they tore at my heart. They arrived unannounced in a green and gold caravan, its panels scratched and scarred, but the scarlet inscription still legible for those who could read it. LAZARILLO'S WORLD PLAYERS! TRAGEDY AND COMEDY! BEASTS AND MARVELS! And all around the script paraded nymphs and satyrs, tigers and olifants in crimson, rose, and violet. Beneath, in gold, sprawled the proud words: PLAYERS TO THE KING I didn't believe it myself, though they say old Henri had a commoner's tastes, preferring a wild-beast show or a comédie-ballet to the most exquisite of tragedies. Why, I danced for him myself on the day of his wedding, under the austere gaze of his Marie. It was my finest hour. Lazarillo's troupe was nothing in comparison, and yet I found the display nostalgic, moving to a degree far beyond the skill of the players themselves. Perhaps a premonition; perhaps a fleeting vision of what once was, before the spoilers of the new Inquisition sent us into enforced sobriety, but as they danced, their purples and scarlets and greens ablaze in the sun's glare, I seemed to see the brave, bright pennants of ancient armies moving out across the battlefield, a defiant gesture to the sheet-shakers and apostates of the new order. The Beasts and Marvels of the inscription consisted of nothing more marvelous than a monkey in a red coat and a small black bear, but there was, besides the singing and the masquerade, a fire-eater, jugglers, musicians, acrobats, and even a rope-dancer, so that the courtyard was aflame with their presence, and Fleur laughed and squealed with delight, hugging me through the brown weave of my habit. The dancer was dark and curly-haired, with gold rings on her feet. As we watched she sprang onto a taut rope held on one side by Géronte and on the other by Arlequin. At the tambourin's sharp command they tossed her into the air, she turned a somersault, and landed back on the rope as neatly as I might once have done. Almost as neatly, in any case; for I was with the Théâtre des Cieux, and I was L'Ailée, the Winged One, the Sky-dancer, the Flying Harpy. When I took to the high rope on my day of triumph, there was a gasp and a silence and the audience -- soft ladies, powdered men, bishops, tradesmen, servants, courtiers, even the king himself -- blanched and stared. Even now I remember his face -- his powdered curls, his eager eyes -- and the deafening surge of applause. Pride's a sin, of course, though personally I've never understood why. And some would say it's pride brought me where I am today -- brought low, if you like, though they say I'll rise higher in the end. Oh, when Judgment Day comes I'll dance with the angels, Soeur Marguerite tells me, but she's a crazy, poor, twitching, tic-ridden thing, turning water into wine with the mixture from a bottle hidden beneath her mattress. She thinks I don't know, but in our dorter, with only a thin partition between each narrow bed, no one keeps their secrets for long. No one, that is, but me. The Abbey of Sainte Marie-de-la-mer stands on the western side of the half-island of Noirs Moustiers. It is a sprawling building set around a central courtyard, with wooden outbuildings to the side and around the back. For the past five years it has been my home; by far the longest time I have ever stayed in any place. I am Soeur Auguste -- who I was does not concern us: not yet, anyway. The abbey is perhaps the only refuge where the past may be left behind. But the past is a sly sickness. It may be carried on a breath of wind; in the sound of a flute; on the feet of a dancer. Too late, as always, I see this now; but there is nowhere for me to go but forward. It begins with the players. Who knows where it may end? The rope-dancer's act was over. Now came juggling and music while the leader of the troupe -- Lazarillo himself, I presumed -- announced the show's finale. "And now, good sisters!" His voice, trained in theaters, rolled across the courtyard. "For your pleasure and edification, for your amusement and delight -- Lazarillo's World Players are proud to perform a Comedy of Manners, a most uproarious tale! I give you" -- he paused dramatically, doffing his long-plumed tricorne -- " Les Amours de l'Hermite! " A crow, black bird of misfortune, flew overhead. For a second I felt the cool flicker of its shadow across my face and, with my fingers, forked the sign against malchance. Tsk-tsk, begone! The crow seemed unmoved. He fluttered, ungainly, to the head of the well in the courtyard's center, and I caught an impudent gleam of yellow from his eye. Below him, Lazarillo's troupe proceeded, undisturbed. The crow cocked his head quickly, greasily, in my direction. Tsk-tsk, begone! I once saw my mother banish a swarm of wild bees with nothing more than that cantrip; but the crow simply opened his beak at me in silence, exposing a blue sliver of tongue. I suppressed the urge to throw a stone. Besides, the play was already beginning; an evil cleric wished to seduce a beautiful girl ... Holy Fools A Novel . Copyright © by Joanne Harris. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Holy Fools: A Novel by Joanne Harris All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Part 1 Juliettep. 1
Part 2 LeMerlep. 93
Part 3 Isabellep. 205
Part 4 Perettep. 277
Epiloguep. 353