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.
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.
BUY THE BOOK
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