Sacred Hearts

Sacred Hearts

A Novel

Book - 2009
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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 setsin 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.
Publisher: New York : Random House, 2009
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9781400063826
Branch Call Number: FIC Duna
Characteristics: 415 p


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Jul 16, 2018

Will be a slow read. historical novel. Dynamic writing, smart.

Cynthia_N Mar 08, 2017

Interesting glimpse into life in a convent in the 1500s. Much more political than I had imagined but not surprising. The book has a little bit of a twist at the end!

May 07, 2015

Who would have thought that a story about a 16th-century teenager forced to enter a convent could be so engaging? I thoroughly enjoyed this book, loved the characters, the writing, and the story: thoroughly recommend it!

Dec 20, 2014

Dunant is a marvelous historical writer, with a delightful eye for detail that relies on rigorous research. Her novels always come with a bibliography. She also seems to stick to what she knows, which is Renaissance Italy. This novel takes on convent life, and the plight of young women who were forced against their will into taking the vows.

Dec 10, 2012

An interesting and well paced story of the influence and power of the church during the Renaissance in Italy. Lots of historical detail.

Jul 28, 2012

1570 Italian convent is the setting. It is a mystery, but also about the fight against the counter-reformation.

Geegee235 Jan 08, 2012

Fascinating story. A little far-fetched but interesting insight into the lives of unwanted daughters in Italy when the only option was the convent.

Nicole21 Oct 16, 2010

This is a good book - took a long time to actually grab my interest.I am a Catholic so it all made sense to me but I am not sure that anyone else would want to read pages and pages about the religion and the rituals esp at that time..I did skip over some of it (ha)

The main character is full of gusto and you have to feel for her - the trapped songbird. The RC cloister was the option for many 2nd born girls - doweries were too high. Sister Zuana is a great lady - full of intelligence and a questioning mind. A woman far before her time - also trapped within the walls but each woman has her own story. A good book. Just be ready for the first 100 pages - UGH but worth the pain I think...

flourgirl Aug 31, 2010

The detail in this book really makes it come alive. I thought that it was not as good as either "The Birth of Venus" or "In the Company of the Courtesan" because it was slow to get going, but once the real story started it was hard to put down.

Aug 25, 2010

Sarah Dunant writes a fine historical novel - great research made interesting through her storytelling ability.

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