May We Recommend . . .

I have a good run of books lately. Some of them upcoming and new releases, other have been on book store shelves and have achieved success. Over the next month, I’m going to run a series highlighting my favorites.

Scared Hearts, by Sarah Dunant

The trade paper addition released April 2010, but the hard back would be worth every penny. I am amazed at Ms. Dunant’s writing. She pulls you into the world of a 16th century convent as she follows the stories of two members in the covenant. One is a young noble-woman, who has been torn from her lover and locked within the convent against her will. Unlike any other novice, she is willing to hazard anything to escape and reunite with her lover. The other is a nun who has already accepted the futility of resistance. Unwittingly, she becomes caught in the strong political under-current of the convent when she is given the task of helping with the girl’s transition.

There are novels where quirky characters greet and entertain us, and then there are novels where living, breathing people step off the page, take you by the hand, and force you to look at humanity during at its best and worst. Sacred Hearts is such a book.

For writers, I cannot recommend this novel highly enough. Ms. Dunant manages to show you a world that is as complex as it is simple. One feels the cold of the stone wall, the scratch of the fabric and the oppression and the joy found in solitude and strict routine. Yet it is more than Sarah Dunant’s characterization, or her amazing settings that make this novel. She has a startling ability to take the mundane and show the reader the unspoken complexities beneath the surface—the hidden politics and the power struggles that exist even within places dedicated solely to prayer and simplicity.

(Post by Jessica Dotta)