Lisa Louie's Reviews > Sacred Hearts

Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant
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's review
May 15, 2011

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Read in May, 2011

I read Sacred Hearts for the Vibes & Scribes book group, and thoroughly enjoyed it for its imagining of convent life in16th century Italy although its story has a modern flavor to it. The story is told from the viewpoint of a senior nun, the dispensary sister who might have worked as an apothecary if she had been born male. The tender balance of convent life is upset when a young noblewoman is forced to enter it after she falls in love with the wrong man. Her presence ignites a political struggle between the worldly and pragmatic abbess and the pious novice mistress who longs to see God through a miracle. Once the dispensary sister forms an attachment to the new conscript, her loyalties are tested. From a modern standpoint, the ending is a satisfying one.
I liked the novel's pondering upon the nuns' daily activities and found their gossip as well as their pleasures believable. Also, as someone who seeks out fiction that might attain a moment of transcendence, I appreciated the tincture of faith depicted in the novel; Dunant's is not a disinterested eye.
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