Then Maureen receives a strange package containing what looks like an ancient letter written in Latin and signed with a symbol. She discovers that its author is an extraordinary woman whom history has overlooked -- or covered up -- Countess Matilda of Tuscany, and in the letter Matilda demands the return of her "most precious books and documents." Maureen soon finds herself in a race across Italy and France, where hidden dangers await her and her lover, Bérenger, as they begin to realize that they are on the trail of another explosive discovery: the Book of Love, the Gospel written in Jesus' own hand.
As Maureen learns more about Matilda, an eleventhcentury warrior countess who was secretly married to a pope, she begins to see the eerie connections between herself and Matilda, connections she must trace to their source if she is to stop the wrong people from finding the Book of Love and hiding it forever.
©2008 Kathleen McGowan; ©2009 Simon and Schuster, Inc
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If you are into traditional religion this is not the book for you. If you are open to a great story, spiritual and romantic, woven into history in a "heretical" way, I definitely recommend this book. The narrator does a wonderful job playing all of the parts. I hated for the book to end. Who knows what really happened in history? Even if we were there would we know the whole story? I cannot wait for Kathleen McGowan's next book.
"A "must" read"
This book tells several stories, weaving them together into a wonderful tapestry. It's fiction. Or is it? The story line makes a lot of sense. It will make you think and question what you were taught as a child. Read "The Excected One" first, if you can. It will add good background to help in the understanding of "The Book of Love."
"Engaging at times yet also frustrating"
It’s been about 20 years since I did graduate studies and encountered Matilda of Tuscany in one of my courses. My professor was a fan of Matilda and introduced us to this larger than life woman who had such a profound impact on Western history. Thus, when Kathleen McGowan dedicated the greater part of "The Book of Love" to the story of Matilda, she had me. Since much of what passes for the history of the middle Ages only focuses on the military and economic conflicts among the narcissistic power brokers of the period, Matilda is often overlooked except in her political and military roles. Yet, this woman impacted so many aspects of medieval society that her influence is still being felt.
McGowan tells the story of Matilda within the context she introduced in her first book that includes Cathar beliefs, the theory that Magdalene was the wife of Jesus and that there has been an alternative “underground” Christianity since the time of Christ. In the author’s notes she makes it clear that she believes this to be true but that she presents it in the guise of historical fiction. She is a storyteller not an academic and is more comfortable presenting what she believes to be true in the form of story than as an academic disputation. She challenges the reader to consider the beliefs she presents on their own merit. Since this is a review of the book as a work of fiction, I will not attempt to discuss the merits of the beliefs presented in the book.
As a tale, the author draws me in whenever she tells the story of Matilda. She gives a nice sense of life in Medieval Italy and most of the characters from that period are fairly well developed and engaging. Even the villain of that part of the story, Henry IV, is believable in his malignant psychopathy. There are many little fables and vignettes, presumably from the “Red Book” that season the story and flesh out the mythological context in which the characters find themselves.
The author looses me when she shifts into the present. I get the feeling that the characters are there simply to explain the beliefs that the author is presenting in the book. Neither Maureen nor Beringer engage me as characters. Cousin Peter Healy seems to be the only character that shows any depth or development.
In a review of "The Expected One", her first book in this series, I complained that the villains were one dimensional, cardboard characters that were not really believable. At least one of the villains in "The Book of Love" is two dimensional. Most of the villains in the shell story are sneering, hooded figures, who skulk in the shadows and whose motivation is unclear. She develops the apparent leader of this cabal a little, yet the contemporary villains are not really necessary to the story. They don’t move the action forward to any significant degree, as that is done by the quest for the Book of Love and hints dropped by a mystery character.
As with the first book in the series, when the story is in the past I’m engaged and enjoy the series. That is what got me to read "The Book of Love" and that is what will get me to go on to the third book in the series.
The narrator does a good job and adds to the enjoyment of the audio book version.
"Female strength...Love for faith"
It is a good mixture of love faith and politics.Demonstrating the secrets behind them.
"great book bad narrator! "
The narrator was not at all attractive. She made all the characters seem like they were coming out of a Shakespearian play, an old one at that!
"A wonderful trip of the imagination."
A wonderful trip of the imagination thru history filled with insights on both the know and unknown biblical stories. filled with wonderful descriptions of art and locations.
What I really enjoyed was the fact many of her ideas and story lines hit home on many of my own ideas of what really was.
I enjoyed the intertwining of history and art with a captivating story.
Very enlightening about the key players in the bible. As I read it I looked up paintings and additional information on the web about the people and places. I've listened to all 3 books several times and I have the physical books as well. Kathleen McGowan is an amazing and talented author that I feel wrote with integrity regarding the subject matter.
"Not as good as first book, but still interesting"
After reading The Expected One, I had high expectations for this book. I think it could have used more editing -I considered stopping halfway through because I was losing interest. But glad I finished it because the ending was more in line with first book and much more interesting.
This book speaks to my life at this moment. Amazing!
Thank you for all of your lovely work and service, Kathleen.
"had potential but..."
The history and stories of Matilda and Italy were interesting, but the modern-day characters had no development.
A completely different narrator. This narrator spoke in a slow, choppy manner with odd inflections and sustained pronunciations of some words. It was so irritating to listen to and I was tempted frequently to stop listening. I do enjoy stories about Italy, and that was the only reason I completed the audiobook.
The plot was fair, but the narration detracted from the story. My reactions were irritation, anger and boredom.
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