A most unusual book, hard to classify. In the end, I had to call it a dream sequence, conceived by a very talented writer. Some of the passages are spectacularly insightful; for example: "It is not enough for us to learn, to know and to believe. We still have to invent." If that passage alone were all that the book contained, the writing of it would have been a worthwhile endeavor. There are a number of other similarly insightful and epigrammatic fragments.
So why only three stars? Because in the end, the book never gets going with a substantial narrative. The writer, in both voices that she uses (her own modern one and that of a late medieval painter) has rendered a collection of fragments. Beautiful and unique as the fragments are, they never coalesce into a substantial portrait of either Mont-St-Michel or its hallowed library.
The prose and imagery is beautiful. However, the book takes place on an island with a monastery, and I don't have enough understanding of the Catholic church to understand what is going on.
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