Beyond the Book: Background information when reading All Shall Be Well; And All Shall Be Well; And All Manner of Things Shall Be Well

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

All Shall Be Well; And All Shall Be Well; And All Manner of Things Shall Be Well

by Tod Wodicka

All Shall Be Well; And All Shall Be Well; And All Manner of Things Shall Be Well by Tod Wodicka X
All Shall Be Well; And All Shall Be Well; And All Manner of Things Shall Be Well by Tod Wodicka
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2008, 272 pages
    Jan 2009, 272 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Stacey Brownlie

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book

Print Review

Hildegard von Bingen
Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), whose writings and music are integral to the novel, was trained by an anchoress named Jutta and, in the book, is one herself. An anchoress is a female hermit – a woman who, for religious reasons, voluntary shuts herself off from the world. Although information on Hildegard confirms that she chose to emulate Jutta throughout her life, it is not clear that she was an anchoress herself.  In fact, considering her achievements include founding  two convents in what is now Germany it seems unlikely she was.  What she most certainly was though is a woman of deep conviction and multiple talents - a writer, composer, visionary and mystic. Although not a canonized saint within the Catholic church, she is often referred to unofficially as a saint. More about Hildegard.

Julian of Norwich
The title of the book is taken from the writings of another anchoress, Julian of Norwich, author of Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love. Though she is revered by Catholics, as well as some in Protestant denominations, very little is known about her life. There is a church in Norwich, England that is dedicated to her life and influence, and one of T.S. Eliot's poems, "Little Gidding," also quotes this statement of Julian's which Wodicka uses as the title of his novel.

Domenico Ghirlandaio
A Domenico Ghirlandaio painting features prominently in Burt's story: he carries a wallet-sized copy of the c1485 double portrait with him everywhere. The painting is referred to as the Portrait of an Elderly Man with His Son in the book, magnifying its connection to Burt's relationship with his son, Tristan. The original painting is located in the Louvre, Paris.

The Lemkos
Burt's mother-in-law, Anna Bibko, is an important secondary character in the book. She faces her own historical and cultural demons as a descendant of the persecuted Lemko people of eastern Europe. Historically, the Lemkos occupied the Carpathian mountain region that borders Poland and Ukraine. Between 1944 and 1947 the region was entirely depopulated by the the Soviet Union and the land was devastated, in order to deprive the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which was fighting against the Polish People's Army, of support. After 1956, some Lemkos returned home, where they now share the land with Polish settlers who moved into the area in the interim; but most of the estimated 1.5 million Lemkos worldwide (including the estimated 60,000 living in Poland) are spread far and wide, living as isolated minorities, making it challenging to keep their unique culture and language alive.

The most famous Lemkos you're likely to have heard of is Andy Warhol (born Ondrej Warhola) whose parents emigrated to the USA shortly before he was born from what is now North-East Slovakia.

More about the Lemkos at the Encyclopedia of the Ukraine and, which includes a 2002 BBC article about the Lemko people's fight for survival.

Article by Stacey Brownlie

This article was originally published in April 2008, and has been updated for the January 2009 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access, become a member today.
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!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    by Atia Abawi

    When you're a refugee, everyone has lost, at least for the time being... And the journey ...

  • Book Jacket: Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
  • Book Jacket: Eat the Apple
    Eat the Apple
    by Matt Young
    Truth is stranger than fiction. Matt Young's memoir tackles the space in between truth and ...
  • Book Jacket: Educated
    by Tara Westover
    Tara Westover had the kind of upbringing most of us can only imagine. She was the youngest of seven ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Sometimes I Lie
    by Alice Feeney

    This brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something a lie if you believe it's the truth?
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The House of Broken Angels
    by Luis Alberto Urrea

    The definitive Mexican-American immigrant story from an acclaimed storyteller.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Balcony

The Balcony
by Jane Delury

A century-spanning novel-in-stories of a French village brimming with compassion, natural beauty, and unmistakable humanity.


Word Play

Sorry, we do not currently have an active wordplay!

Books that     

 & 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.