Holy Fools
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Holy Fools

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  5,105 ratings  ·  329 reviews
In seventeenth-century France, against a backdrop of witch trials, regicide and religious frenzy, Juliette, one-time actress and rope-dancer, seeks refuge with her young daughter in the remote abbey of Saint Marie-de-la-Mer, and reinvents herself as Soeur Auguste.

Until a new Abbess is appointed, bringing with her a ghost from Juliette's past, a man she has every reason to...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published 2004 by Black Swan (first published January 1st 2003)
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I have mixed feelings about this book. It was a nice contrast and complement after The Pillars of the Earth , as that book was set in a monastery in England and this one in a convent in France, though 500 years later. I have not read Chocolat by Harris, but of course I have seen the movie and thoroughly enjoyed it.

This book is quite different—much darker and without a satisfactory ending (in my opinion). I liked the character development of Juliette and the fact that she found peace and comunity...more
Joanne Harris can spin a tale! I was totally captivated by this magical, medieval story that follows two adversaries who both love and vie with each other. Juliette is a high-wire artist who was raised as a gypsy. She seeks refuge at the Abbey of Sainte Marie-de-la-mer when she becomes pregnant with her baby Fleur. She enjoys the quiet life there, tending her herbs, etc., until she once again comes in contact with the Blackbird, the conniving and cruel, yet charming Guy LeMerle, who shows up dis...more
Although I really enjoy reading Harris’s works, I’m beginning to wonder if she has something against the Catholic church. In the majority of the books I’ve read written by her, someone or something from the Catholic church ends up being the baddie, and the Church itself is inevitably portrayed as corrupted and judgmental. I’m not Catholic, but I’d hope that someone who is as lovely an author as she is could branch out a little in her pool for villains.
This book, while still engaging in much magi...more
S. J. Bolton
‘Time’s black rosary counts the interminable seconds.’

In 17th Century France, Soeur Auguste lives a gentle, generous life in the remote island abbey of Sainte Marie-de-la-Mer, together with her daughter, Fleur. She is loved and valued by her sisters in faith, as much for her skills with medicinal plants as for her sweet and kindly nature. But Soeur Auguste is hiding a secret. She is not the impoverished widow of her ‘cover story,’ but Juliette, a one-time gypsy and circus performer, forced by th...more
Nimue Brown
A gorgeous, compelling story set in mediaeval France, Holy Fools has all the ingredients I love in Joanne Harris’s books. There’s a strong, complex heroine with pagan inclinations, a few villains, a slightly gothic setting, and a lot of less than comfortable reflections on the human condition. Harris has a very warts and all approach to portraying people. She doesn’t tend to do clear lines between the wholly good and the wholly bad, and I love this about her work.

One of the themes running throug...more
Ana Mardoll
Holy Fools / 0-552-77001-9

What happened here? I loved "Chocolat", and I adored "Five Quarters of the Orange". "Holy Fools", however, seems like it came from a completely different author. The book is acceptable, but not up to Harris' standards.

To start, the Mother-Daughter theme that Harris employs so well is deeply underdeveloped here as more of a plot device than anything else. There was a lot of potential here: a nun with a beloved daughter, raising her to be safe from the outside world and...more
So, at least I've come to read Joanne Harris' newest book. It was just as great as the previous ones. What is clear is that JH always writes about the same themes: searching for a home, settling down, running away from the past, relationship to dead mother, mystical elements... an so on.

This time the book is set in yet an other time, year 1610, but is still in France of course. The main character is called Juliette, and is a former rope-dancer from a circus. She seeks refuge in a remote Abbey w...more
Feb 01, 2008 Stacy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: French gypsies from the Renaissance
Recommended to Stacy by: Erin
One of the reasons I like to read historical fiction set in far away places is I learn about history and far away places. This book doesn't give that satisfaction because instead of doing historical and locational research, the author made stuff up. She sets much of the action in a nunnery on an island near the southern town Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. I've actually been to this town, and there's no island and no nunnery there. I think she was inspired by the island monastary of Mont St. Michel, o...more
Easy to read and fun. Joanne Harris' books are always wonderful, though ever since reading Chocolat I tend to think of them like the Belgian chocolates shaped like shells: very sweet, but you can have too much. There are some gorgeous descriptions.

The themes and characters, though, are quite similar to those in Joanne Harris' other work. Juliette shares a lot of characteristics with Vianne; Fleur with Anouk. Juliette's cantrips and her herbs are very reminiscent of Vianne. LeMerle is very like M...more
This thriller wasn't really thrilling. The only thing that made me keep reading was that I wanted to know if Juliette will be reunited with her daughter Fleur in the end. Although I'm not a mother yet I can understand her loss. In the second part the story condensed and quickened, and therefore became a bit more interesting.
I didn't like the very ending, though. Cannot understand Juliettes decision on the last page.

I must admit that I don't like historic novles much in general, and it's quite co...more
Πάνος Τουρλής
Ατμοσφαιρικό, έξυπνο, πρωτότυπο, ανατρεπτικό, άντε και λίγο αστυνομικό. Η Τζόαν Χάρις έχει ξεφύγει αρκετά από τον "μύθο" της σειράς βιβλίων με τη μάγισσα Βιάν Ροσέ (Καυτή σοκολάτα, Γόβες και γλυκές αμαρτίες, Γεύση από ροδάκινο) κι έχει προχωρήσει σε νέα, πρωτότυπα μονοπάτια. Ίως κουράσει στην αρχή που πρέπει να αφηγηθούμε το "πριν" της ιστορίας, από το δεύτερο μέρος και μετά όμως δε θα το αφήσετε από τα χέρια σας.

1610, Νουάρ Μουστιέ, Γαλλία. Μοναστήρι της Παναγίας της Θαλασσινής. Σε αυτό το μέρο...more
Dopo un po' di tempo dall'acquisto, mi pentii di aver comprato questo libro, così, "a pelle", senza una ragione precisa. Ma mi ricredetti dopo la lettura.

L'autrice è Joanne Harris, quella che ha scritto Chocolat. Chocolat non l'ho letto, e non so se valga la pena di leggere gli altri suoi libri, ma La donna alata, che non è certo un capolavoro, è una lettura molto leggera e piacevole, adatta alla spiaggia.
La vicenda è ambientata nella Francia agli inizi del '600, in un convento di suore. Ma non...more
We read this one for book club June 2008. I really enjoyed this book. I liked it better than Chocolat. Harris has a great skill for putting words together. I really like the story and the writing style in this book. I gave it only four stars because the end kind of drove me nuts. The main character is suppose to be this really strong female, and she does something in the end that I think was beyond foolish, and maybe not so realistic.
Pamela Scott
Harris has become one of my favourite writers recently. I’ve read and loved several of her novels including Sleep, Pale Sister, Coastliners and The Gospel of Loki. Holy Fools is no exception. Harris on top form again. Harris’s writing is a strong as her other novels I’ve read. Harris is skilled at telling a damn good story and Holy Fools held my interest all the way through. I loved the little historical details Harris created in Holy Fools. Harris creates a very rich, vibrant and ultimately rea...more
Claudia Sesto
"Non amare sovente, ma per sempre..." - "Non puntare nulla che non sei disposta a perdere".
"Abbiamo un'affinità naturale, tu e io" aveva detto "Siamo come aria e fuoco, la combustione fa parte della nostra natura. Non si può cambiare l'ambiente in cui sei nato. Ecco perchè non abbandoneremo mai la strada, mia Ailée (Donna Alata); non più di quanto il fuoco possa scegliere di non bruciare, o un uccello di lasciare il cielo".
Il Corvo, l'uomo, vendicativo, senza scrupoli, egoista, equivoco, ma all...more
Marilyn Saul
Very disappointing book. Weak plot: young girl becomes infatuated with a rogue; she is forced to seek refuge and ends up in a loosely-run abbey; rogue finds her; she is still infatuated, even though he takes her daughter away...yada, yada, yada. What bothered me the most is that his voice was the same as her's - had trouble discerning who was speaking at any given moment. Characters were singularly unlikable. I characterize this book as a "contract crunch" book, where successful authors are forc...more
Leanne Smith
Not as wonderful and French (although set in France) as the Chocolat series, but an original story with the wonderful magic that I always associate with Joanne Harris.
Fools is darker than some of Harris' earlier work, and her treatment of the psychology of group dynamics here is intriguing and realistic.
The synopsis of this book led me to expect something more -- a plot perhaps. Or character development.

This book rambled and confused, with no real sense of who the characters were or why they were there. I get that there was a thirst for revenge, an unresolved romantic attachment, and confusion about religion and everyday life. It was just that, with all the labored description and attention to detail, the really important things seemed to be missing. Like why I should care about any of these ch...more
Juliette had at one time been a member of several traveling actors' troupes, but now, in 1610, has taken refuge in an island convent off the shore of Brittany. She leads a quiet life among the sisters until the abbess dies, and her replacement, a young girl just twelve years old, takes over with the help of her personal confessor, a man named Guy LeMerle. LeMerle himself had been a member of the same actors' troupe as Juliette, and the two have a lot of history together. She knows that he is up...more
Apr 08, 2013 Bookguide rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bookguide by: ScottishHoosier
The sumptuous cover is possibly the best thing about this book, which seems a rather callous thing to say as the book itself is also good. If it had been written by anybody but Joanne Harris, I may well have been writing a rave review, but after reading 'Chocolat' and 'Five Quarters of an Orange' and loving both, 'Holy Fools' was a disappointment. I found it slow-going, and the promise of fascinating stories surrounding life with the travelling players were not realised. Juliette's past has to b...more
If anyone else had written this book, I would have been over the moon. However, I hold Joanne Harris to a higher standard. I read, and adored several of her other books, and this one didn't compare. Don't get me wrong- it was a wonderful book. Plot twists, action, and suspense had me hastily flipping pages. The characters, however, just weren't as immersing as Harris' other heroines. It wasn't anything I could particularly pinpoint- I liked the main character well enough- but I didn't find mysel...more
I picked this book up from the public library as an audio book to listen to while driving. I didn't know anything about the author, but from reading the book's cover, it sounded mildly interesting. I'm a little more careless when choosing audio books than I am with print because they require less investment from me. All I ask from them is that they be unabridged and entertaining enough to keep me awake when driving. In some ways, listening to audio books is a way to read things that I would prob...more
I love Harris’s writing style. The prose has an oral quality to it… very lyrical, making you want to read it aloud. And it all makes sense, given this story’s set in France, year 1610. The tone of the narrators is actually quite modern, but the oral nature of their narrative sort of gives the story its authenticity, if you will.

Like her other novels, this one also has a split narrative, as the story’s told from the perspectives of Juliette and Guy. I loved how their stories read like verbal due...more
Set in Brittany during the 1600s, "Holy Fools" is principally the story of two engaging characters: a gypsy-born nun with pagan ideas, hiding behind her veil the secrets of her adventuresome past as a famous acrobat, and a consummate actor who wears many faces -- even to himself -- and to whom all of life is but a high-stakes game.

The two of them, incredibly well-drawn, carry the story, narrating it alternately in shorter and shorter chapters, as the plot unfolds with increasing urgency, mirror...more
I didn't think I would enjoy reading about 17th Century Brittany but Harris had me hooked at the beginning. Once again she tackles the mystery surrounding the Catholic church and the fine line of being devout and being hungry for power and personal gain. And once again she portrays the life of those who have become outcasts of society but who who have been accepted into the gypsy family no matter what their flaws or quirks.
Pregnant, and seeking refuge,former trapeze performer "l'Ailee" leaves he...more
Natacha Martins
Voltei a este livro, que já tinha lido há uns anos atrás, porque não me apetecia ler nada do que tinha aqui em casa, e voltar a ler Joanne Harris, para mim é sempre um prazer - já perdi conta às vezes que reli Cinco Quartos de Laranja... Escolhi este, porque me lembro que, dos livros das Joanne Harris, foi aquele que menos me encantou. Na altura culpei a forma como o tinha lido, muito à pressa, talvez não na melhor altura. Por isso estava na hora de lhe dar uma segunda oportunidade. :)
Li-o como...more
I would give it 3.5 stars if I could. Dont't get me wrong, it is a good, well written book - in the end. It took me a while to work out why I was constantly falling asleep after reading 2-3 pages during the first 100 pages of the book. It is written in a diary style, which bored me to sleep every time I tried to get on with reading. It took a long time to get through the first half of the book this way, but I persevered. The story is authetic to the times of 1610, where everything is about relig...more
The isolated convent of Ste. Marie de Mer is an ideal refuge for Juliette, once a gypsy player and the famous acrobat L'Ailee. She has fled to this obscure haven to bear her daughter, Fleur, and to heal from the betrayals of her former life. She most particularly wishes to forget La Merle, the Blackbird, leader of her former troupe, her sometime lover and her betrayer. But all idylls end, and with the death of kind and frail Mere Marie, the elderly abbess, come changes that will profoundly alter...more
I loved the movie “Chocolat,” based on a book by Joanne Harris. So when I found a deal on “Holy Fools” I jumped at the chance to get to know her work. I’d have to say, this book was an excellent place for me to start. After all, it is set in a convent, and I did grow up Catholic.

Of course, this is no modern convent with girls’ high school attached, but rather a beautifully isolated place in seventeenth century France. The fact that I’ve taken vacations in the area only added to the attraction, a...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Joanne Harris was born in Barnsley in 1964, of a French mother and an English father. She studied Modern and Mediaeval Languages at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge and was a teacher for fifteen years, during which time she published three novels; The Evil Seed (1989), Sle...more
More about Joanne Harris...
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“Love not often, but forever.” 71 likes
“From a certain height, everyone looks the same - men, women, villains, kings - as if rank and fortune were simply an accident of perspective.” 1 likes
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