Excerpt from Holy Fools by Joanne Harris, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Holy Fools

A Novel

by Joanne Harris

Holy Fools
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2004, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2005, 384 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Beside me, fat Soeur Antoine clapped her meaty hands, her face mottled with exertion. I was suddenly aware of the smell of her sweat, of the dust in my nostrils. Someone clawed my back; it was Soeur Marguerite, her pinched face halfway between pleasure and pain, mouth drawn down in a trembling bow of excitement. The reek of bodies intensified. And from the sisters lined against the heat-crackling walls of the abbey came a cry both shrill and oddly savage, an aiiii! of pleasure and release, as if natural energies, loosened by the heat, had brought a kind of insanity to their applause. Aii! Encore! Aii! Encore!

Then I heard it; a single raised discordant voice, almost lost in a fury of acclamations. Mère Marie, I heard. Reverend Mother is . . . then once again the distracted buzzing of heat and voices, then the one voice again, higher than the rest.

I looked around for the source of the cry and saw Soeur Alfonsine, the consumptive nun, standing high upon the chapel steps, arms spread, her face white and exalted. Few of the sisters paid her any attention. Lazarillo's troupe was taking a last bow; the actors went round once more with flowers and bonbons, the fire-eater gave a final spurt of flame; the monkey turned a somersault. Arlequin's face was running with greasepaint; Isabelle—too old for the part, and with a visible paunch—was melting away in the heat, her scarlet mouth smeared halfway to her ears.

Soeur Alfonsine was still shouting, straining to be heard above the voices of the nuns. "It's a judgment on us!" I thought she said. "A terrible judgment!"

Now some of the nuns looked exasperated; Alfonsine was never happier than when she was doing penance for something. "For pity's sake, Alfonsine, what now?"

She fixed us with her martyr's eyes. "My sisters!" she said, more in accusation than grief. "The Reverend Mother is dead!"

And at those words a silence fell over all of us. The players looked guilty and confused, as if aware that their welcome had been suddenly withdrawn. The tambourin player let his arm drop to his side in a harsh jangle of bells.

"Dead?" As if it could not be real in this iron heat, beneath this sledgehammer sky.

Alfonsine nodded; behind me, Soeur Marguerite was already beginning to keen. Miserere nobis, miserere nobis . . .

Fleur looked up at me, puzzled, and I caught her in my arms with sudden fierceness. "Is it finished?" she asked me. "Will the monkey dance again?"

I shook my head. "I don't think so."

"Why not? Was it the black bird?"

I looked at her, startled. Five years old and she sees everything. Her eyes are like pieces of mirror reflecting the sky—today blue, tomorrow the purple-gray of a storm cloud's belly. "The black bird," she repeated impatiently. "He's gone now."

I glanced back over my shoulder and saw that she was right. The crow had gone, his message delivered, and I knew then for certain that my premonition was true. Our time in the sunlight had finally come to an end.

The foregoing is excerpted from Holy Fools by Joanne Harris. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    In the Country of Men
    by Hisham Matar
    Labeled by some as the "Libyan Kite Runner", In The Country of Men does share some ...
  • Book Jacket: Holding Up the Universe
    Holding Up the Universe
    by Jennifer Niven
    Jennifer Niven's spectacular Holding Up the Universe has everything that I love about Young ...
  • Book Jacket: Coffin Road
    Coffin Road
    by Peter May
    From its richly atmospheric opening to its dramatic conclusion, Peter May's Coffin Road is a ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win All the Gallant Men

All The Gallant Men

The first memoir by a USS Arizona survivor, 75 years after Pearl Harbor.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

K Y Eyes P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.