Tag Archives: Huguenots

#BookReview ‘The City of Tears’ by @katemosse #historical

Steeped in the historical detail of sixteenth-century religious tension and war in France, The City of Tears by Kate Mosse continues the story started in The Burning Chambers. Through the eyes of Minou and Piet we experience the Saint Bartholomew’s day massacre of Huguenots and its aftermath as the story moves from Paris and Chartres to Amsterdam, home to refugees and a protestant uprising. Kate Mosse

It is 1572 and the action starts in Puivert, Languedoc, where the Reydons have found a fragile peace from Catholic persecution of the Huguenots. Minou and Piet take their family to Paris to witness the diplomatically-sensitive royal wedding of catholic King Charles’s sister Marguerite to the protestant Henry of Navarre. Unknown to the Reydons their old enemy Cardinal Valentin, also known as Vidal du Plessis, is in Paris planning to kill Huguenots. What follows drives the old enemies together and sets in motion Mosse’s story. The Reydons are forced to flee to save their lives, leaving behind one daughter possibly dead or missing. They run to Amsterdam where they establish a new life though their grief for Marta ruptures their previous marital harmony. But religious extremism follows them and once again they must face the threat of violence. As Piet’s past catches up with him, an uncomfortable family secret is revealed. The need to find the truth once and for all takes them to Chartres and the home of a hunter of religious relics.

These books need be read with full concentration. This period of history is a gap in my knowledge, which made The City of Tears an interesting read. The story lacked drama, though I find it difficult to pin down why. Minou is the heart of this book and it is she who pulled me on through some of the heavy historical detail. I settled into the book better when I gave up trying to remember the historical fact and let Minou’s fictional story take over.

As in The Burning Chambers, the Prologue is set in South Africa two centuries later. And still the woman featured in 1862 is a mystery. The City of Tears is set at a time of change in French Protestantism and the birth of the Dutch Republic and is one of a series of novels covering 300 years of religious turmoil in Europe. Mosse follows the geographical movement of the Huguenot refugees from sixteenth-century France and Amsterdam to the Cape of Good Hope in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. No word on how many novels this series will finally comprise.

I think I will always prefer Labyrinth.

Read my review of THE BURNING CHAMBERS.

If you like this, try:-
The Ashes of London’ by Andrew Taylor
The Witchfinder’s Sister’ by Beth Underdown
The Last Hours’ by Minette Walters

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE CITY OF TEARS by @katemosse #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-5gU via @SandraDanby

Book review: ‘The Burning Chambers’ by Kate Mosse

Kate MosseThe story starts in winter, 1562, in the South of France. In a prison in Toulouse, a man is being tortured, while in Carcassonne a young woman awakes from a bad dream, a sad memory. The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse is heavy on atmosphere and historical detail and, like Mosse’s Languedoc trilogy, is slow to start. Despite my confusion, and I admit to being confused in parts for two-thirds of the book, I read on because Mosse is an expert storyteller who spins a tale and reels you in so you sit up late at night reading just one more chapter. Sometimes though, I wished she would cut some of the detail.

This is a story of religious war, of prejudice and violence, of loyalty and love, and principally a woman and a man who find themselves on opposite sides of the religious divide. Minou Joubert is a Catholic, the daughter of a bookseller who believes in selling books of all faiths for everyone to buy freely. When she receives an anonymous letter, sealed with a family insignia she does not recognize and comprising only five words ‘SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE’, she is mystified. That same day, fate crosses her path as Huguenot convert Piet Reydon flees capture. And so starts this spiraling and twisting story of a fight for control of Toulouse between Catholics and Huguenots, the mysterious quest of Minou’s fragile father Bernard, Minou’s mysterious letter, a Bible, traitors who smile and friends who are taciturn. Letter forgotten, Minou and her young brother Aimeric are sent to Toulouse for their safety. There they stay with their mother’s aunt but find themselves in a bad-tempered house where Huguenots are hated and their uncle is a political agitator. Toulouse seems more dangerous than Carcassonne or is the danger following Minou?

Minou is a great heroine and I await the next installment of the series with curiosity. The Prologue and Epilogue hint that this is not a standalone book, set in 1862 in South Africa, a woman is seeking answers in a graveyard. Is this the beginning of book two?

Read my review of Citadel, third in Mosse’s Languedoc trilogy.

If you like this, try:-
‘In Another Life’ by Julie Christine Johnson
Fair Exchange’ by Michèle Roberts
The French Lesson’ by Hallie Rubenhold

The Burning Chambers’ by Kate Mosse, #1 Huguenot series [UK: Mantle]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE BURNING CHAMBERS by @katemosse #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3wV via @SandraDanby