Thursday, July 16, 2009

New This Week: Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant

Clearly, a novel where the action focuses around life in a 16th century convent is not going to be a laugh riot and, in that regard, Sarah Dunant’s Sacred Hearts (Virago) delivers no surprise.

Over the last two decades, Dunant has been quietly building an international reputation as one of the most watch-worthy historical fictionists writing today. Sacred Hearts is Dunant’s ninth novel, but the third in a triptych set in the Italian Renaissance, after The Birth of Venus and The Company of the Courtesan. But Sacred Hearts is a jewel of a novel. Not a tiny, delicate one, either. But a big, robust, showy diamond that will hold its own with any going. Dunant is the whole package: trained historian, seasoned storyteller, fabulous writer.

“Before the screaming starts,” Sacred Hearts begins, “the night silence of the convent is alive with its own particular sounds.”

Sacred Hearts might be the very best of a the superior field of historical fiction published in the summer of 2009.

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