The Cleaner of Chartres
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The Cleaner of Chartres

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  861 ratings  ·  211 reviews
From the author of Miss Garnet’s Angel, a story of the redemptive power of love and community in the famous French cathedral town

There is something very special about Agnès Morel. A quiet presence in the small French town of Chartres, she can be found cleaning the famed medieval cathedral each morning and doing odd jobs for the townspeople. No one knows where she came from...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 27th 2013 by Viking Adult (first published 2012)
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Petra SockieX
When I started this book I said, "This is reading right outside my genre, I'm really into medical stuff right now - doctors in training, doctors philosophising, books on Tourette's, The Emperor of All Maladies, so a bit of fiction might be light relief.

Pretty hopeful, right?

I just couldn't take this book, it was such tedious reading. The character of Agnes was quite unbelievable and I didn't really care about her anyway. In fact I didn't really care about anyone at all. And then having reached t...more
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
This book is beautifully written, has outstanding characters with depth, includes mystery and intrigue, has a plot that will keep you engaged, and a tale you won’t want to end.

We all have a past whether sordid or lily white. We either like to keep our past hidden or allow it to be an open book. Agnes didn't like to think of her past. She did have an unpleasant history and tried to keep it buried, but people and circumstances caused others to want to "dig" into the life she led before she arrived...more
Deborah Swift
A beautiful moving novel with depth

Agnes Morel is an unlikely main character in a novel - quiet unassuming and middle-aged. The beginning of the book is slow with lengthy descriptions of Chartres Cathedral and not much dialogue, so at first I thought I would struggle to make it to the end. But I loved Miss Garnet's Angel so I persevered and was more than richly rewarded.

The characters of the nuns with all their un-saintly quirks and human failings are acutely well-drawn and Agnes's past as it is...more
Teresa
Redemption and self-discovery are recurrent themes in Salley Vickers' writing and she tackles the same subjects here in The Cleaner of Chartres. The central hub of the story is the ancient cathedral of Chartres which attracts a wide range of visitors, each one seeking something different to fulfil their incomplete lives. Agnes Morel is the enigmatic young woman at the centre of events, quietly engrossed in her task of cleaning but having a lasting effect on those who come in contact with her.

As...more
Alisha-Dear Constant Reader
 photo A3DC24F9D84566735B5DA2B2423577_zpsf56daa31.gif

Thanks for dragging me along through the most boring of stories. I really learned a lot and grew as a person.

The Cleaner of Chartres is about the quiet Agnes, found in a basket by a farmer. The slow and overwritten novel jumps from the present to Agnes past where we learn surprisingly little considering the mountain pages we had to get through for the information.

I stopped reading this book at least a dozen times telling myself to just give up. It wasn't going to get better. Then, finally at 5...more
Damaskcat
I have read some of Salley Vickers’ other novels and found a few I liked and some I couldn’t get on with at all. The Cleaner of Chartres is one of the really good ones in my opinion. I read it over the space of a couple of days and loved the writing, the characters and the background. Agnes Morel is an orphan. She was found as a new born baby in a basket in a wood and handed over to nuns. After a childhood which was fraught with problems, including a stay in a psychiatric hospital she eventually...more
Helen
There is far more to Agnes Morel, the cleaner of Chartres Cathedral, than meets the eye, for Agnes is a woman with a troubled past, and over the course of the novel her history is revealed.

The revelation of Agnes' past is handled well (slowly, and like the peeling away of the layers of an onion) as is the depiction of life in the city.

The characters of the various inhabitants of Chartres are neatly sketched in, assuming their roles and "standpoints", representing the range of possible comment up...more
Neens
I really struggled with the beginning of this book. The sentence structures are sometimes so convoluted that it is difficult to say who the different parts refer to (one sentence I could make neither head nor tail of). The author also has a penchant for long and obscure words, and while I enjoy extending my vocabulary, always choosing five- or four-syllable words where two-syllable words would do just fine (whoever heard of convivial sparrows?) does not a reader-friendly book make. A third issue...more
Rosie Morgan
This book forced my hand.
Previously, I had never taken the trouble to create a shelf of my own designing. Now I have. Totally beautiful books.

Salley Vickers has created a rare and beautiful gem; every sentence is perfect, every word carefully placed. The plot makes this that rare thing, a gentle page-turner. Maybe that's the wrong description because I found myself holding my breath and almost skipping sentences in my hurry to find out what might happen to Agnes.

But this book isn't just about A...more
Lindsay (Little Reader Library)
Agnes Morel lives in Chartres, and is very much involved in the community, having several roles, including cleaning the floor of the beautiful cathedral, babysitting, sitting as an artist's model, and helping Professor Jones with his paperwork. Agnes comes over as quietly spoken, kind and independent, however, she is rather enigmatic and though she fulfills all of these different roles within the town, not that much else is actually known about her, her background or where she came to Chartres f...more
Viviane Crystal
Agnes Morel is a quiet, gentle soul who arrived at the famous Chartres Cathedral and wound up a steady presence as a cleaner and as an inspiration to many who were daily visitors to the cathedral. There’s Abbe Paul who has lost his faith in God after the death of his parents but who begins to see the face of God again in this young faithful cleaner. No, it’s not her faith in God that is so moving; it’s her constant presence and quiet, gentle support. She seems to know exactly what to say and whe...more
Bree T
Agnès Morel has been living in the ancient cathedral town of Chartres for nearly 20 years. She was found sleeping on the porch of the cathedral one night and due to the kindness of several locals, found her way through enough odd jobs to get by, found a room to stay in exchange for helping look after an elderly lady and made a few friends. She keeps mostly to herself though, even though her dark looks, interesting clothes and eccentricity do attract some attention.

When the cleaner for the cathed...more
Mina De Caro (Mina's Bookshelf)
Read my extended 4.5 star review on MINA'S BOOKSHELF
http://minadecaro.blogspot.com/2013/0...

[...] It took me a while to get into this story, but once I did, I found it quite interesting and enjoyable. Different, I would say. Elaborate like the facade of a Gothic cathedral, as rich and beautiful as a mosaic in a stained-glass window, The Cleaner Of Chartres' opening chapters summoned my attention with an array of colorful characters, dual timeline, and poignant backstories that made a full and b...more
Maya Panika
Agnès Morel is a cleaner who touches lives, bringing happiness and new life to many, but to some she seems to inspire only spite and bile. There’s a mystery about Agnès that gradually unfolds across two time-lines - Agnes’ s past and present - gathering up the threads of the lives of the other characters along the way, threads that that finally come together in an unexpected way with the least probable character at the apex of the tale. The settings are beautifully written, the characters well d...more
Abigail
It would be easy to dismiss this novel as light fare – easy, but wrong. On the surface, “The Cleaner of Chartres” is a “heartwarming” story of a well-meaning loner doing good works around Chartres that is just begging to be made into a feel-good movie a la Amelie and Chocolat. It is fluidly written and easy enough to read in one sitting. Look beyond these things, however, and you will find that the novel is deeper than it first appears, examining themes such as the nature of guilt and regret, th...more
Sterlingcindysu
3.5 rounded up. (Changed to 3 after quiltgranny's note below.)

(Changed--this isn't about Notre Dame after all, but Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres. For those not familiar with Chartres or Notre-Dame, there should have been some talk about it not being *the* Notre Dame. That makes more sense how Agnes got a job so easily there because I would think even a cleaning position at Notre Dame would involve a security check.) I didn't realize this is where Notre Dame is and I think Vickers did a grea...more
Susan
Agnes has lived in the sleepy town of Chartres for years. She has become ingrained in the fabric of the community; she cleans the tiled floor of the cathedral, acts as muse and model for a local artist, organises the correspondence of a befuddled academic and does the occasional spot of babysitting. But despite her involvement, the townspeople know little about this tall, elegant, stoic woman with turquoise eyes and matching pendant always around her neck. No one knows where she came from, or wh...more
Monique Mulligan
Redemption and forgiveness are at the heart of Salley Vicker's latest book, The Cleaner of Chartres. The cover hints at an intriguing tale - one in which mercy is valued more highly than judgment.

Twenty years ago Agnès Morel arrived in Chartres and was found sleeping on the north porch of the ancient cathedral. Now, the enigmatic, gentle guarded woman is seen each morning cleaning the cathedral. No one knows where she came from. And to some degree, nor does Agnès; as a newborn, she was found in...more
Donna
I visited this cathedral by accident when in France so when I saw this book about it I naturally thought that it could be interesting to read. I wasn't impressed by the style of writing in the first few chapters and there were a few other places that made me wince but the story was sound. The history of the church was well adapted into the story line the further you got into the book. I sometimes wonder if established authors get away with things first time authors wouldn't, which is a shame bec...more
Izzy Spear
Agnes is an unlucky victim who proceeds through her life dealing with life's unpleasant surprises. Although there are several people who admire and like Agnes, and in fact are her champions, a few other mean spirited souls do their best to bring Agnes down.

The beginning was rather slow, but as I kept reading, I became intrigued and invested in learning how Agnes would be rescued from her own spotty memory and those who would make her a scapegoat with often near disastrous results.

The ending wa...more
Elaine
Agnes Morel is the quiet unassuming young woman at the centre of events. Keeping to herself and quietly going about her task of cleaning the cathedral in Chartres, and subtly helping the residents of Chartres, she has a positive effect on those who come in contact with her. The ungodly characters of the nuns are well-intentioned, her mischievous neighbourhood “friends” are tragic and bitter old women. The characters in this book gradually filtered into my mind and I couldn’t wait to know what wo...more
Valarie Smith
I have mixed feelings about Salley Vickers' writing. I loved Mr. Golightly's Holiday, Instances of the Number 3 and enjoyed Miss Garnett's Angel, but didn't care much for Dancing Backwards or The Other Side of You. But The Cleaner of Chartres seemed to be in a vein similar to Mr. Golightly's Holiday, so I was excited to read it.

I was disappointed. While it does have the constant sense of warmth and good will that makes me love Vickers in the first place, it was too simplistic for me to put much...more
Ukgardenfiend
The Cleaner of Chartres by Sally Vickers
This summer we actually went to visit Chartres during our trip round Northern France and was absolutely charmed by the town.
A medieval city on many river with houses built such that a river flowed under them or by their side with an old landing stage and steps down. Many many bridges and narrow windy streets.

The cathedral too is delightful
and I was thrilled that on the day that we visited the labyrinth was uncovered as I had read about it some time ago and...more
Lyn Elliott
Salley Vickers has some engaging turns of phrase and flashes of wit which enliven an unconvincing story. The snide dialogues between the two village gossips are brilliantly funny, though you know that Mme Beck's ill-will is going to cause real problems for Agnes, which of course it does.

The so-called 'redemptive power of love' that appears in others' reviews is superficially treated and the ending leaves you in a couple of uncomfortable moral positions.

The repeated motif of the labyrinth throug...more
Yvann S
“What could be worse – she half-thought – than to have loved and been given no chance to make it known?”

(From the inner cover): There is something very special about Agnes Morel. Twenty years ago, she appeared in the cloisters of the ancient cathedral of Notre-Dame, in the medieval town of Chartres, France. To the townspeople, it seems she has always been there – a harmless presence, touching their lives in subtle ways. But no one knows anything of her past.

(Agnes actually has a grave over the e...more
Jody Nightbow
May 15, 2014 Jody Nightbow rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Melissa Slocum
I LOVE this author's first book (MISS GARNET'S ANGEL) - so much so that I've read it 3 times and taught it in my college course on Religion in Contemporary Fiction. I also enjoyed Vickers' INSTANCES OF THE NUMBER THREE. So I was predisposed to like THE CLEANER OF CHARTRES. I must say, though, wow, slow slow start, and I nearly gave up about 1/3 of the way through. But I picked it up again and am very glad I did. Now I've finished it and I find I keep drifting back to thinking about, so that make...more
Malvina Yock
Just been to France and visited some cathedrals, so this appealed. I haven't read any Sally Vickers before (although have Miss Garnet's Angel on my TBR), and I'd been eying this book since it was released. So, win, win. (Plus I had to read it for a book club. Win, win, win...) It was a curious story, fraught with many incidences of people behaving badly - and Agnes Morel, lately the cleaner of Chartres, being the end point (the victim?) of the domino effect of such behaviour. Obviously this prod...more
Gee
Not having read a Salley Vickers book for some time, and to be honest, having found one or two of her books a bit difficult to get into, it was still with a great deal of anticipation I picked up The Cleaner of Chartres and I'm very pleased to say I wasn't disappointed. Having thoroughly enjoyed the quasi mysticism of Miss Garnet's Angel and Mr Golightly's Holiday, it was lovely to again be taken on a similar path by Vickers in The Cleaner of Chartres.

Agnes Morel arrives in Chartres one evening...more
Anne Broyles
Agnes Morel is found as a baby in a basket, and remains an enigma her entire life. As the book parcels parcels out bits and pieces of her history and secrets, readers also see Agnes as a 40-year-old woman who makes her living cleaning the Chartres Cathedral and for other city residents. Despite all that has gone wrong in her life, Agnes remains a good person who brightens other people's lives in her simple way.

Vickers introduces a wide cast of characters, including two older female friends who a...more
Kp
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Salley Vickers was born in Liverpool, the home of her mother, and grew up as the child of parents in the British Communist Party. She won a state scholarship to St Paul’s Girl’s School and went on to read English at Newnham College Cambridge.

She has worked, variously, as a cleaner, a dancer, an artist’s model, a teacher of children with special needs, a university teacher of literature, and a psy...more
More about Salley Vickers...
Miss Garnet's Angel The Other Side of You Mr Golightly's Holiday Instances of the Number 3 Where Three Roads Meet: The Myth of Oedipus (Canongate Myths)

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“The Abbe Paul looked at Agnes rather as Alain had, with respect. 'How sensible. People are desperate to probe mysteries which for the most part are best left unprobed. It is the modern curse: this demented drive to explain every blessed thing. Not everything can be explained. Nor should be, I think.” 0 likes
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