Sacred Hearts: Book summary and reviews of Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant

Sacred Hearts

A Novel

by Sarah Dunant

Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant X
Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2009
    432 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

The year is 1570, and in the convent of Santa Caterina, in the Italian city of Ferrara, noblewomen find space to pursue their lives under God’s protection. But any community, however smoothly run, suffers tremors when it takes in someone by force. And the arrival of Santa Caterina’s new novice sets in motion a chain of events that will shake the convent to its core.

Ripped by her family from an illicit love affair, sixteen-year-old Serafina is willful, emotional, sharp, and defiant–young enough to have a life to look forward to and old enough to know when that life is being cut short. Her first night inside the walls is spent in an incandescent rage so violent that the dispensary mistress, Suora Zuana, is dispatched to the girl’s cell to sedate her. Thus begins a complex relationship of trust and betrayal between the young rebel and the clever, scholarly nun, for whom the girl becomes the daughter she will never have.

As Serafina rails against her incarceration, others are drawn into the drama: the ancient, mysterious Suora Magdalena–with her history of visions and ecstasies–locked in her cell; the ferociously devout novice mistress Suora Umiliana, who comes to see in the postulant a way to extend her influence; and, watching it all, the abbess, Madonna Chiara, a woman as fluent in politics as she is in prayer. As disorder and rebellion mount, it is the abbess’s job to keep the convent stable while, outside its walls, the dictates of the Counter-Reformation begin to purge the Catholic Church and impose on the nunneries a regime of terrible oppression.

Sarah Dunant, the bestselling author of The Birth of Venus and In the Company of the Courtesan, brings this intricate Renaissance world compellingly to life. Amid Sacred Hearts is a rich, engrossing, multifaceted love story, encompassing the passions of the flesh, the exultation of the spirit, and the deep, enduring power of friendship.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Dunant's an accomplished storyteller, and this is a rich and rewarding novel." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. A rich tale filled with passion and the enduring power of faith..." - Library Journal

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Reader Reviews

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Louise J

Awesome!
A great piece of historical fiction that was hard to put down. It brought to life the world of an Italian convent in Ferrara, Italy in 1570. Back in that era, women could be placed in convents by ‘force’. Many of these women who ended up there were castaways from families; unwanted in general; others to curb promiscuous lifestyles; or even those with rich families who could provide a dowry with the young woman just for them to take her off their hands.

Sacred Hearts is a phenomenal piece of historical fiction that will capture the hearts of all who read it.

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Author Information

Sarah Dunant Author Biography

©randomhouse.com

Sarah Dunant is a writer, broadcaster and critic. She was born in London and studied history at Cambridge. After a brief spell working for the BBC, she spent much of her twenties traveling (Japan, India, Asia and Central and South America) before starting to write. Her first two novels, were written with a friend. She then went solo.

She is the author of eight novels including the international bestseller The Birth of Venus, which has received major worldwide acclaim, and In the Company of the Courtesan.

She has also written two screenplays and edited two books of essays. She has worked in television and radio as a presenter and a producer, is a patron of the Orange Prize for women's fiction, sits on the editorial board of the Royal Academy magazine and reviews for The Times, The ...

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  • In The Company of the Courtesan jacket
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