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The Treasure of Montségur: A Novel of the Cathars

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  442 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
The year is 1209: A baby girl, dressed in a white silk dress strewn with pearls, is found in a meadow outside the smoking city of Béziers, where 20,000 people have just been massacred. Adopted by Lady Esclarmonde, the fiery Jeanne is educated in the ways of the Cathars -- the "pure ones," pacifist, vegetarian, chaste followers of Christ. But war is raging, and the Inquisit ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published June 3rd 2003 by HarperOne (first published 2002)
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Kate Lawrence
Apr 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
The story of the Cathars was brought vividly to my attention when I read Labyrinth, by Kate Mosse, a few years ago. I wanted to see what another novelist might make of the story. Burnham follows the legend of the hidden treasure, supposedly secured in a remote cave at the direction of Cathar leaders on the night before they were forced to surrender Montsegur to the French in 1244. Specifically, this novel is the story of the woman entrusted with the dangerous mission of hiding the treasure--sack ...more
Kathryn Bashaar
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read this book while travelling in Languedoc, where it takes place. I really enjoyed it. I like how Jeanne is looking back on her life and admitting that she was jealous and headstrong in her youth. And I like how her spiritual life brings her contentment in old age, in spite of poverty and persecution. She is a wonderful, strong, vivid character. But, there is no escaping the Catholic church's persecution of heretics. This book is very sympathetic to the Cathar heretics, and casts them in a v ...more
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have to begin this review by telling you that I am Catholic. Not a go to church every Sunday Catholic but one that sends prayer and praise in the right direction and has a working relationship with my God...lately, that means I talk a lot and if He's not stuffing clouds in his ears, He's listening. Anyhoooo....

I enjoyed this book because it explored faith outside the church and reminded me that regardless of our chosen religions and the endless lessons on 'judge not', we just don't seem to tru
Jan 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
I've always been fascinated with the history of the Cathars so when I saw this book for sale at the library, I had to buy it. It's a very easy read and beautifully written. It's also an illuminating look into the life of one of the Cathars from a personal perspective, which is refreshing compared to the historical, non-fiction texts I've read on this subject.
Overall, I liked the style of this book well enough that I would read more by this author. I think anyone who didn't know the history of th
Tracey Ellis
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
A haunting historical novel that mixes religious history with romance, and builds to a dramatic crescendo. I had never heard of the Cathars before this book, their struggles, and the legend of the treasure. Eye opening and tragic.
Kathryn Mattern
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading this book, The Treasure of Montsegur: A Novel of the Cathars, by Sophy Burnham, while still engrossed in "Kingsblood Royal," but I want to write my review while it's still fresh.

I've read several books on the Cathar heretics and their supposed treasure smuggled out of Montsegur before the mass martyrdom of the Cathars, and I have to say that far and away this is the best! Not only does Burnham capture the blended Catholic-Cathar culture of the South of France and its para
♥ Marlene♥
On Monday, September 15, 2008 I wrote about this book:

I feel awful because you mailed this book all the way from Australia to me, but I did not like it at all.
Just visited amazon and there I noticed, yes it has some great reviews but most people don't agree with those reviews.
I was very disappointed cause I had expected so much more. The part where Jeanne grew up as a young girl and her first love was interesting, so i thought hey, this is going to be great, but then we went back to the future w
Jan 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating look at the extermination of the Cathars from the South of France in the Middle Ages. The Cathars were a group of Christians with beliefs quite different from the Catholics. As a result, a crusade was waged against them and they were all killed.

This novel is set during that time, with a protagonist who was raised by Cathars. The story is told with alternating view points and flashbacks, which together weave an interesting and heartfelt story.

This is historical fiction at i
Jul 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Overall it was a great book and a real page turner. I finished it on vacation in a couple of days. I would have given it 5 stars, except for two things that irked me, as noted by other reviewers. First, the visions of the "future-time." I felt that it was a ploy to pad the story and didn't contribute to the plot. Also, the ending was unsatisfying to me, not necessarily because of what happened, but how the author portrayed it. However, it wouldn't prevent me from recommending the book, as it is ...more
M Melick
May 21, 2016 rated it liked it
The history of the Cathars is interesting and worth reading about. I do not think this book did justice to that history - Cathar-lite. Perhaps that is what it was supposed to be. The story does stand as a good read though.
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
A beautifully written book, with a storyline told from the perspective of a female living at the time of the Cathars.
Jan 10, 2011 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this book, but it seemed sparse, and the ending seemed very contrived. I would recommend to those who enjoy reading the "destined to be damned" type of historical fiction.
Nov 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Historic Fiction Fans; Those who don't mind "time/place" jumping chapter to chapter
Shelves: historic-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sally Edsall
I really, really wanted to like this book, and was disappointed.
The story of the Cathars and the treasure is fascinating (my interest was piqued by a visit to this region of France some years ago).
However, I thought the telling of this melodramatic fictionalisation was pedestrian and a little laboured. It was a bit Harlequin-romance dressed up as something more.
Nevertheless, a plaeasant and undemanding read if you are looking for somethign with an historical basis, and a topic not covered elsewh
“Kill them all, God will know His own”

When questioned by a crusader on how to recognize true Catholics from Heretics during the battle at Bezier in 1209, this was the answer from a papal legate. Subsequently, 20,000 people were massacred.

The story of the Albigensian Crusade and the extermination of the Cathars by members of the Catholic Church by orders of the Pope in 13th C France is one that is not widely known. The Crusade was a win-win situation for both the Church and the nobility of Langu
Jul 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008
At first I thought the unusual style of writing would put me off but once I got into the rythm I found it a real page-turner. Jeanne was a headstrong, foolish & jealous woman, full of human foibles & likeable because of it. Her story, & the story of the Cathars, is one of hardship, of faith, & also of happiness. I thought the ending quite lovely.

I won't go into the atrocities perpetrated by the Catholic Church throughout history, & all in the name of God & the one true fa
Jan 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
I had this on my "to read" list for about 10 years. Then I began reading Ina Caro's "Road from the Past" (see my currently reading list -yes I'm still reading it - it's one of those books you parcel out and savor) and she has a chapter that talks about the Cathars as she described Montsegur, Beziers and other medieval fortified cities in SW France. The Cathar's were a religious group that broke from the Church in the 13th C. They advocated among other things translating the Bible into the French ...more
Jan 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Read 2003 to unanimous applause at the Jasmine Creek Book Group.

The Treasure of Montségur: A Novel of the Cathars, by Sophy Burnham. 2003. 304 p.
In 1209 in Béziers, France, the Inquisition is charged with exterminating Cathars, the Church of Love. It is a time of terror, with neighbor pitted against neighbor, and religious passions running high; a time of suspicion, burnings, and systematic genocide. Against this turbulent background, Jeanne of Béziers finds herself embroiled in the resistance,
Sep 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was "so-so" about the book, but our book club had a lot of fun talking about it. The main character wasn't very attractive and the more we talked about it, I began to think that this was a crafty and precise strategy on the part of the author, in order to tell the story. The tone was bitter and frightening which enabled the writer to focus on the horror of the inquisition (I don't want to capitalize it because it was such a horrific time in history). One of our book club members was moved by s ...more
Francisco Becerra
Mar 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Being an interested in everything related to Catharism and after finally visiting this year the Languedoc-Rousillon region for the first time, this beautifully tragic novel deeply impacted me, taking me back to the stunningly beautiful southern France, and made me revive my steps and sunsets there.

Although there are some magical and mystical elements that could be stripped in favor of a stronger reality sense, they don't diminish the powerful story and the beauty of Jeanne, the protagonist. Thr
Ivani Torales
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Muy buena novela para conocer más a fondo la historia y las creencias de los cátaros que habitaban en la antigua Occitania.
La novela se centra en la vida de la protagonista, Jeanne, fascinada por la vida mundana, pero aferrada a sus amigos creyentes y a su fe cátara. Esta constante lucha interna se ve reflejada en los acontecimientos externos, hasta que Jeanne tiene que hacer su elección final: renunciar a su fe para seguir viva o morir y alcanzar la Iluminación.
Punto positivo para los datos his
Florence Demarey
Wat een schitterende historische roman! Sophy Burnham heeft kennis van de Katharen en heeft dit in een prachtige roman neergeschreven. Naast het informatieve aspect (want je leert echt veel bij over de kathaarse levenswijze) is het ook gewoon een zeer mooi verhaal over de levensloop van de vrouw Jeanne. Een roman waar elk aspect van het leven aan bod komt. Zeer vlot geschreven, je kan het boek moeilijk wegleggen. Op het einde zat ik met de krop in de keel wetende dat het verhaal voor een groot d ...more
Mar 18, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wouldn't even put one star if I had to choose, but I wanted to write a review for other teens who are thinking of getting this book. I got this book from the library yesterday. I often read adult category books, amish and historical fiction. This was an awful book, I only got to the first couple chapters and put it down. I was expecting it to be a good book, but it wasn't at all. Don't read this book if you are a teen as it has bad parts!
Aug 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Medieval history buffs
I picked up this book because it is the same time period in France as the book I just read, Virgin Blue. In my travels to France, I visited more cathedrals and churches than is possible to remember. This fictional account of historic events filled in some of the gaps in my understanding of the violence unleashed by the Catholic church in their holy war against the Cathars and other religions and sects. I couldn't put it down, but I don't think it's necessarily a mainstream read.
Jul 03, 2012 rated it liked it
The Treasure of Montsegur deals with a very hard time to live in man's history. The author treats the Cathar religion as if it is true, does her best to give a satisfying ending to a very sad situation. The graphic, gratuitous sex left me wishing I'd never picked up the book. If author hadn't added it, I would have enjoyed the story and characters better.

Otherwise well researched and written.
Sarah Bressers
Jul 16, 2013 rated it liked it
I hardly knew anything about the Cathars before reading this book, so the newly learned history was good. I did not like the heroin much, especially in her younger days, but she felt real enough. I was annoyed by the recurring telling of the visions a fool from her childhood had of 'the future times', which did not add anything to the story and felt like a cheap trick; but overall I liked the book.
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Treasure

This is the second time I've read this book. It's a very well-crafted tale about the Cathars of Southern France during their persecution by the official church of the time. It's unconventional in plot organization where the backstory is revealed in finely-paced flashbacks. The ending is also unconventional, which I appreciate. I also enjoyed the themes in this novel, where an unconventional heroine discovers where the true treasures in life lie.
Nov 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
I found this book extremely interesting as I had never read anything about the Cathars before. I am now intrigued and will go and follow up about this sect and what happened to them and if they are still in existence.

I would have liked to have got to know the characters a little more in depth, but apart from this, I found it a great read and would recommend it.
Jul 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
13th century Fraice is a perilous place for Christians whose doctrine differes from that of the Roman Catholic Church, but poverty confers the protective mantle of invisibility. Once lady of her own manor, Jeanne is just another beggar, a hag dependent upon the charity of her betters. When her latest benefactor recognizes her for a Cathar, a heretic, Jeanne must flee for her life.
Sep 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
First I want to say that I got this book free through the Goodreads giveaway. This is the first book I have read by Sophy Burnham, but it won't be the last. I love historical fiction and was not disappointed by this book. I enjoyed reading about Jeanne's journey, the humanness of her spiritual journey, the struggles and triumphs. Great read. I had a hard time putting it down.
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Sophy Burnham is an award-winning playwright, novelist, and non-fiction writer. Three of her books have appeared on THE NEW YORK TIMES and other best seller lists. Her works have been translated into twenty-four languages. Her articles and essays have been published in ESQUIRE, NEW YORK, THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, TOWN & COUNTRY, READER'S DIGEST and many other magazines. In addition to her t ...more
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