The Cleaner of Chartres by Sally Vickers
This summer we actually went to visit Chartres during our trip round Northern France and was absolutely charmed by the town.
A medieval city on many river with houses built such that a river flowed under them or by their side with an old landing stage and steps down. Many many bridges and narrow windy streets.
and I was thrilled that on the day that we visited the labyrinth was uncovered as I had read about it some time ago and had so wanted to walk it. So walk it I did. But not barefoot!
The Cathedral is also famous for its Rose window and stained glass.
The book was read for our book group and I had no idea what to expect but in fact it proved to be a really good read. Not one with a fast pace or thrills or murders or any other stuff like that but a story of vices and virtues in humankind and how they can be manifested in small ways in all manner of people from nuns and priests to café owners and painters. Redemption also figured as a theme.
The book was written about one woman – the cleaner – but told her life in two streams – the past and the present – gradually uncovering the truth about her background and birth.
The theme of ‘two’ or twin-ness went through the book in characters – 2 gossips, 2 nuns, 2 priests, 2 painters, 2 earrings and so on. which was an interesting aspect once discovered.
There was also symbolism of numbers which was mentioned in a number of places. The symbolism of 7 for the Christian and Abrahamic and old pagan religions. In one place it was quoted:
- 7 Athenian children were sent every 9 years (see also the symbolism of 9) to the Minotaur; 7 days of the week;
- 3 is the number of the spirit, or the Trinity, 4 is the physical number – earth, wind, fire, air; 4 corners of the earth;
- the medieval curriculum was divided into 2 parts – the Trivium – grammar, rhetoric and logic, and the Quadrivium – geometry, arithmetic, astronomy and music;
- 7 liberal arts;
- 7 deadly sins;
- 7 last trumpets at the end of time;
- 3*4=12; 3*3=9; 12 and 9 are the signs of the zodiac;;
- 12 months of the year;
- 12 branches to the tree in the Jesse window in the Cathedral of Chartres;
- 9=the triple trinity;
- there are 9 doors to the Cathedral;
- 9 porches;
- 9 orders of angels in 3 choirs of 3 – Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, Angels;
- someone counted ow many times the number 7 was used in the bible (I’m not sure if it was Old Testament or New or both together) and it was 777.
So I would really recommend this book.
The Freezer: 2402 AD by Timothy S. Johnston
A real page turner this one. Just as you think nothing more can go wrong, it does!
Set in outer space it certainly doesn’t attempt to glamorise the potential way people would live or work. It appears to be factually correct scientifically about the planetary conditions that would be experienced, but as I am not a scientist I couldn’t confirm, but it did convince me.
Some of the science potential applications were our worst nightmares realised and very much enhanced the storyline of murder, police, and how to solve crimes under unusual and extreme conditions.
The ending was a surprise and, of course, justified the book title in a different way but was a worrying possibility.
Again another recommendation.