Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Holy Fools” as Want to Read:
Holy Fools
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Holy Fools

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  6,740 Ratings  ·  409 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
Paperback, 430 pages
Published 2004 by Black Swan (first published 2003)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Holy Fools, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Holy Fools

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
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 comunit
Zahra Dashti
May 18, 2017 Zahra Dashti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
کتاب لذت بخشی بود ، کشش خوبی داشت ، شخصیت های جدید و بدیع ، تغییر خلق و خوی شخصیت اصلی به خاطر مادر شدن و ....
کمی جسورانه هم بود. داستان جذابیت خاص خودش رو داشت اما ضعف هم داشت ، سرعت وقایع به نظرم کمی زیاد بود ، از طرفی معماها و اتفاقات و توضیحشون خیلی بیش از این توضیح لازم داشت. بعضی مواردش خوب بود ولی بعضی هاش رو کم توضیح داده بود و خواننده قانع نمی شد. البته چون کتاب ترجمه بود ، شاید هم بعضی موارد توضیح داده نشده به خاطر ممیزی و ...
ترجمه هم خوب و روان بود.
در کل داستان پرکشش و جذابی بود .
Nimue Brown
Aug 17, 2012 Nimue Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ana Mardoll
Dec 27, 2009 Ana Mardoll rated it liked it
Shelves: ana-reviewed
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
Jun 02, 2011 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
I love Joanne Harris. I've yet to read one of her books I didn't like.
Well written. Joanne Harris tells a tale again that just flows. Her continuity, despite having depth of copy for different time periods within the same novel is superlative. And the foodie details and location placements are marvelous here, as well. But her Juliette and Fleur in the main? They didn't connect with me as much as they did within the former Harris books I have read. It's still an excellent tale and I'm sure quite possible too.

But I do find that there is a rather revisionist slant to
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
Feb 01, 2008 Stacy rated it liked it  ·  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
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
Jan 17, 2015 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Magical tale based around one woman's travels and trials in the 17th century. As always Joanna Harris uses colourful prose. You can almost smell the mustiness of the nun's cell and feel the fear as Juliette navigates the high wire.
Sharon Bolton
Aug 15, 2012 Sharon Bolton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘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
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
Jan 06, 2015 Kay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Why oh why did I keep reading this book? I thought it would get better and I got caught up in the characters. I regret the time spent! It was interesting yes, the time period of 1610 which I know nothing about. And I got taken in by the mysterious Juliette with her secrets hiding out in an out of the way abbey.

I found the writing difficult to follow. The main parts divided into 4 characters. BUT sometimes the narration in those parts was not that character so the reader needed to figure out who
Jan 05, 2009 Faith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2002-2004
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
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
One of the worst books I have ever read.
Boring and unlikeable characters, terrible writing-style (too much telling, too little showing), horribly paced and an overall mess.
There wasn't one character I felt a connection with (neither good nor bad) and the "mystery" left me cold. This meant that there was nothing I was interested in - I didn't care about the fates of the characters nor what ~grand finale~ the book is leading up to.
Simply a terrible book. My first and last book by this author.
May 14, 2008 Mindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
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.
Sep 09, 2008 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hist-fic
Fools is darker than some of Harris' earlier work, and her treatment of the psychology of group dynamics here is intriguing and realistic.
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.
Jun 16, 2015 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
lost the damn book with 20 pages left. unsatisfied.
Jul 11, 2017 Jeanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the fourth book of hers I've read. The others were the Chocolat series. It seems like this book is the same characters but in a different time. Even so, the book is well written and I enjoyed reading it.

The main narrator is a woman who reads tarot cards and casts spells. She is also well versed in the use of plants for both good and bad.

There's a separation of a mother and her young daughter. There is no father.

There's a young mute woman, a woman who is self-righteous in her religion,
Not the greatest

I nearly gave up on this several times but wanting to know what happens to fleur kept me going.

I was shocked by this how women who was friends and family could just turn on each other.

It was amazingly described got the images of the settings really well just didn't think the story its self was very good.
Dan Harding
Jul 14, 2017 Dan Harding rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
From the salty coast of the abbey's location to the incense-soaked finale, this is a marvellous book that, like a perfect jigsaw, sees all the pieces finally come together in a brilliantly-orchestrated finale. As usual, the writer brings the scenes to life with a rich economy of brushstrokes that nevertheless conjure the sights, sounds, smells and subterfuge right off the page. Terrific stuff.
May 30, 2017 May rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Finished it and had to think about it, but ... not my cup of tea
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
Apr 13, 2009 PurplyCookie rated it liked it
Shelves: religious, witchcraft
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
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
Natacha Martins
Feb 19, 2010 Natacha Martins rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 2 Feb 13, 2015 09:26AM  
  • A Viela da Duquesa
  • An Ideal Husband; A Woman of No Importance
  • A Plague of Lies
  • Auriel Rising
  • The Painter
  • The Burning Times
  • Αιολική γη
  • The Empress Of Ice Cream
  • Tats
  • Three Ways of Thought in Ancient China
  • The Judgement of Strangers (Roth, #2)
  • Cat's Meow
  • The Season of the Beast (Agnès De Souarcy Chronicles, #1)
  • Anthropology and Modern Life
  • Angelique and the King  (Angélique: Original version #3)
  • The Art of Love
  • Shadrach
  • All I Asking for Is My Body
Joanne Harris is an Anglo-French author, whose books include fourteen novels, two cookbooks and many short stories. Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy. She has also written a DR WHO novella for the BBC, has scripted guest episodes for the game ZOMBIES, RUN!, and is currently engaged in a number of musical theatre pr ...more
More about Joanne Harris...

Share This Book

“Love not often, but forever.” 90 likes
“From a certain height, everyone looks the same - men, women, villains, kings - as if rank and fortune were simply an accident of perspective.” 5 likes
More quotes…