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Death Comes As Epiphany (Catherine LeVendeur, #1)
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Death Comes As Epiphany (Catherine LeVendeur #1)

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  1,654 Ratings  ·  120 Reviews
Catherine LeVendeur is a young novice-scholar at the Convent of the Paraclete. Beautiful, learned, willful, and stubborn, Catherine's natural curiosity and individualism have always set her apart. She has come to the convent to conquer her sin of pride, to pray, and to serve God. But service can come in many forms, and to save her Order, Catherine will risk much: disgrace ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published August 15th 1995 by Forge (first published 1993)
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Amalia Gavea
I never thought I'd find a mystery set in the Medieval era that would be so plainly boring, but I have. And it wasn't just boring, it was painfully bad.

The main character is naive and full of bad choices, even though she's supposed to pass as oh! so intelligent and oh! so ahead of her times. However, in every interaction of hers, she comes across as docile, avoiding conflict with all those who plainly tell her they have the right to control her choices and her life. Her relatives, from her paren
Joyce Lagow
There is a full blown sub genre in mystery writing that is devoted to the historical mystery . It most likely was started off by Umberto Eco's vastly popular The Name of the Rose, which was turned into a great movie. Then somewhere along about this time came Ellis Peters and her Brother Cadfel medieval mysteries, set in England at the time of the Maude/Stephen civil wars in the early 12th century. The field quickly filled until today we have crimes being solved in fiction ranging from post World ...more
Clif Hostetler
Aug 24, 2009 Clif Hostetler rated it really liked it
A quick look (not necessarily exhaustive or complete) through the list of those who have read this book on shows that I may be the only person of male gender to have read this book. Hmmm, Oh well, I enjoyed it anyway. It's a murder mystery, historical novel (12th Century France), romance and thriller all rolled into one. However, the medieval setting gives the book a mood and tone that will never be found in a modern mystery-romance-thriller novel. It helps for the reader to be fam ...more
Nov 15, 2016 Veronica rated it really liked it
This was an enjoyable murder mystery set in 12th century France. It had a likable pair of characters in Catherine and Edgar; I especially liked Edgar's sense of humor. Although the ending was a bit overly dramatic, and the shift in one of the characters was a tad far fetched, the overall impression was that of a pleasant read.
I enjoyed many aspects of this book. It is always interesting to see how different life was. In this case particularly how religion played such an important role. There were some aspects that were somewhat overdone for me however (view spoiler). I would be open to reading more of the series though.
Jun 17, 2013 Kelsey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Do you like…?
• The Middle Ages
• Mystery
• Historical fiction
• Intelligent, zealous, and innocent heroines
• Mysticism
• France
• Sean Connery in Goldfinger The Name of the Rose

Then you’ll like this book.

My Medieval Studies professor recommended this as a good example of a realistic medieval setting. She was true to her word: Newman slips in interesting facts without once appearing pedantic. We learn about cures for ailments, religious rituals, strained race relations, and chivalrous tournaments as e
There's so much more of a gamble making your main character a young unmarried woman in a time when women had few rights and if they came from families with money, their movements were even more restricted.

Catherine has been living in an abbey for 3 years with the intention of becoming a nun. Her Mother Superior asks her to pretend to leave the abbey in disgrace to track down a book the abbey produced in honor of a controversial religious figure. Its been rumored that this book has been defaced
Mar 10, 2013 Courtney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-book-150
I adore ecclesiastical mysteries. It began with with the Brother Cadfael series and ran wild from there.

This book had two things going for it: an amazing heroine, and a. beautifully layered mystery. Catherine would be right at home alongside Galileo' s daughters. She's that rarity in the medieval world: intelligent *and* educated. Her piety is somewhat underdeveloped,, but the true lure of the convent for Catherine lay in books: reading writing, assembling. And it is a book that lands Catherine
Jun 10, 2009 Felicity rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of well-crafted historical mystery
Recommended to Felicity by: Sara M. & Camille A.
An engrossing plot, charming heroine and intriguing historical details. The main characters were well-drawn and likeable, and the use of Heloise and Abelard did not seem ponderous or contrived (as use of historical personages in fiction sometimes does.) I liked the thorough depiction of the culture, especially the way people's belief in the supernatural was pervasive and convincing.

My only quibble was with the occasional forays into the perspective of secondary characters. I felt it added little
Aug 29, 2007 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of historical fiction, mystery readers
Shelves: mystery, historical
Amazing. Makes 12th-century France seem very alive and real, and avoids the trap of making characters in a historical novel paragons of the modern day. Later novels fall off in quality, but this one is absolutely top-notch.
Elena Santangelo
Mar 22, 2012 Elena Santangelo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Sharan Newman shows her amazing expertise in this era of history, but this isn't all dry facts. Fast paced story, great characters and a satisfying mystery and romance.
Freyja Vanadis
Apr 19, 2017 Freyja Vanadis rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: absolutely no one
What a ridiculously awful book, and not even in the "so bad it's good" way. I first heard about this author on a podcast I listen to about the middle ages, where the host interviewed her. She seemed knowledgeable about the middle ages, so I looked her up. I decided to read the first book in her series, instead of the most recent one, just because I prefer to start at the beginning. I had misgivings about it, because what are the chances that an 18 year old girl can be written seriously as a crim ...more
Ana T.
Apr 23, 2008 Ana T. rated it really liked it
A medievalist breathes life and vigour into the scholastic debates and religious controversies of 12th-century France in this entrancing mystery debut. Catherine LeVendeur, a young novice and scholar at the Convent of the Paraclete, is sent by the Abbess Heloise on a perilous mission to find out who is trying to destroy the reputation of the convent and, through it, that of the abbess's onetime lover and patron, theologian Peter Abelard. A Psalter created at the convent and given as a gift to th ...more
Newman, Sharan - 1st in Catherine LeVendeur series

Catherine LeVendeur, a young novice and scholar at the Convent of the Paraclete, is sent by the Abbess Heloise on a perilous mission to find out who is trying to destroy the reputation of the convent and, through it, that of the abbess's onetime lover and patron, theologian Peter Abelard. A psalter created at the convent and given as a gift to the powerful abbot Suger of Saint-Denis is later rumored to contain her
Jan 09, 2013 April rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought I would end up enjoying this book since the beginning of it was so strong. The characters seemed interesting and the portrayals of medieval life appeared well researched. I was looking forward to a nice medieval mystery novel. But somewhere in the middle of the book, the mystery and logic got lost. Or maybe I just got turned off by the over-sexed Satanist that appeared mid-way that solicited Catherine (I literally cracked up laughing at that part and I'm sure the author had not meant f ...more
I read this years ago and remember really enjoying it...there was also a romance, which just added to its appeal :) Very firmly entrenched in the medieval period, yet still accessible to all contemporary readers.
Karen Harrison
Mar 12, 2016 Karen Harrison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best historical fiction mysteries I've ever read!!
Sara Gale
Sep 15, 2009 Sara Gale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the clumsy, intelligent, realistic Catherine. She's so much fun to read because she's not perfect.
Hannah Notess
May 08, 2016 Hannah Notess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nuns. Murder. Cathedrals. Hermits. Sassy females.
Bryn (Plus Others)
This is maybe a little closer to 2 stars than to 3, but I did enjoy some parts of it a lot -- Newman is a medievalist and that comes through well in her setting details, without overtaking the flow of the book. I did find Catherine a frustrating protagonist at a couple of points, there were things that seemed quite clear to me as a reader that she took forever to figure out, and some parts of the book slogged as a result. I am curious to see how the next one is; if it slogs also I will probably ...more
Catherine LeVendeur is a young scholar come to conquer her sin of pride at the Convent of the Paraclete, a convent famous for learning and prayer, and its abbess, the fabled Heloise.

When a manuscript that the convent produced for the great Abbé Suger disappears, rumors surface that the book contains sacrilegious passages and will be used to condemn Heloise's famous lover, Peter Abelard.

To save her Order and protect all she holds dear, Catherine must find the manuscript and discover who has alter
Laura Edwards
Feb 24, 2017 Laura Edwards rated it it was ok
For whatever reason, this book bored me to tears. Could not finish.
This book was, obviously, a really fast read for me. I couldn't make myself put it down, actually. Every spare moment (and some moments that weren't spare) I was reading it.

The characterization was great! I loved both Edgar and Catherine, as well as the minor and more secondary characters. Someone who is interested in everything being perfectly, historically accurate would probably not appreciate some of the things the author did - certain of the characters express some rather modern views. Howe
Recommended to me by a mystery-fanatic, I enjoyed many aspects of this books from its compelling characters, intriguing mysteries and of course, its time period. Let's face it, who doesn't like the romanticsim of Heloise and Abelard? But no seriously, what made this book stand out for me was getting the combination of these elements just right. I found Catherine to be a compelling character with a certain amount of intelligence and chutzpah that is needed for a Medieval heroine, but with some na ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I love all of the books in the Catherine LeVendeur series, but will just write a review of this one since it's the first.

These books are set in the 1100s in France. I love learning about that period of time and what a family's routine might have been like. I also love the historic figures that make appearances - getting to learn about them.

Specifically about the series - so well written and interesting. The heroine is a very smart, independent, and deeply religious woman. For the Catholics of t
This book was a welcome break for me from the modern police procedurals that are my usual fare. Our heroine is a young woman who has spent the last three years in a convent, and should soon take her vows to become a nun. But she is sent back to her family by the abbess Heloise on a special mission to find a psalter, originally produced at the convent, that is being desecrated. (I'm not sure I am describing this very well -- most of the problems in the book are uniquely medieval. Not that that's ...more
I'm honestly not sure there's much rhyme or reason to why this is a good story, but my best attempt...

The dialogue is awesome. Newman convinces me that language in 12th Century France was spoken in the fashion she's modeled. Even if that's not true, it's a heck of a sell job, yet it doesn't get bogged down with period jargon that makes you have to reread entire paragraphs to get the gist of it.

The plot manages to seem original enough, and keeps you on your toes. Some might call this a "period pi
Rebecca Mulligan
A Wonderful Medieval Series is Born

This is the beginning book in the Catherine LeVendeur mysteries. Katherine, a young novice about to take her vows, travels to Paris to seek out the infamous Abelard. His love, Heloise is the abbess of Catharine's nunnery and it appears that someone is trying to slander Heloise, Abelard and the nunnery by changing a sacred scripture prepared by Catherine so that it is pornographic and heretical. Catherine was then sent home under the guise that she has been diso
Oct 29, 2011 Sandie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I read this book because a friend lent it to me and because I was interested in the story of Heloise and Abelard. Their story is a background for the book and it stays in the background. The main character is Catherine LeVendeur, an intellectual young women from a prosperous family, who is studying to become a nun. When a psalter written by the convent Heloise runs is defaced, it threatens to destroy her reputation, and she sends Catherine to find out what is going on. As Catherine does so, she ...more
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Sharan Newman is a medieval historian and author. She took her Master’s degree in Medieval Literature at Michigan State University and then did her doctoral work at the University of California at Santa Barbara in Medieval Studies, specializing in twelfth-century France. She is a member of the Medieval Academy and the Medieval Association of the Pacific.

Rather than teach, Newman chose to use her e
More about Sharan Newman...

Other Books in the Series

Catherine LeVendeur (10 books)
  • The Devil's Door (Catherine LeVendeur, #2)
  • The Wandering Arm (Catherine LeVendeur, #3)
  • Strong as Death (Catherine LeVendeur, #4)
  • Cursed in the Blood (Catherine LeVendeur, #5)
  • The Difficult Saint (Catherine LeVendeur, #6)
  • To Wear The White Cloak (Catherine LeVendeur, #7)
  • Heresy (Catherine LeVendeur, #8)
  • The Outcast Dove (Catherine LeVendeur, #9)
  • The Witch in the Well (Catherine LeVendeur, #10)

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“Catherine Le Vendeur," he asked sententiously, "have you known this man carnally?"
"No father," Catherine answered. "But, with your kind permission, I would very much like to.”
“And, for some, closeness to death brings an epiphany which alters their lives forever.” 2 likes
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