Book: Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant
Genre: Historical Fiction
For: ARC from Random House
I was so excited when this ARC showed up out of the blue in the mail for me this past summer! I was familiar with the author having read her book The Birth of Venus awhile back and totally enjoyed it. So finally, I've managed to fit this one in and get it read, even though it's been out now for a couple of months.
This is the story of life in a convent. It takes place in Italy in the 1500's. During that time, many girls were given up by their families to become a nun since they didn't have enough money for a dowry to marry them off.
We often think of girls choosing to become nuns, but in reality, there were many many who were forced into this life. This is the story of one such girl and of the experienced nun who befriends her. And what happens when the new girl begins to plan her escape.
This book really gives you the feel for convent life. The constant praying, all day and all night it seems, the boredom, the harshness of penance, the isolation from the world, the day to day survival. Yet, there's also a camaraderie, a sisterhood, a sense of purpose many of them have, and the way they all specialize in something they helps keep the convent running. This book reminded me a lot of Galileo's Daughter, another great book that portrays a lot about the life of a nun.
The story started out a bit slow for me, but really picked up once the conflict got going. I think I read the whole second half on Sunday and was completely into it.
I must say though, I think there should be a sequel! I'm really curious about what happens next!