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Notre Dame: A Short History of the Meaning of Cathedrals

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,144 ratings  ·  192 reviews

" L'image de Notre-Dame en flammes m'a stupéfié et chaviré au plus profond de moi-même. Un bien inestimable mourait sous nos yeux. C'était aussi effarant que si le sol s'était mis à trembler sous nos pieds. " Ken Follett.

Dans ce court récit, Ken Follett raconte l'émotion qui l'a étreint lorsqu'il a appris le drame qui menaçait Notre-Dame de Paris, puis revient sur

Capa dura, 112 pages
Published October 30th 2019 by Palgrave Macmillan
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Maria Espadinha
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Food for Peace

Every time I’m angry, irritated or feeling like a tiger ready to jump on top of its prey, I go to a church. Since I’m not even religious, I don’t go there to purify my soul. I go there due to the instant calming effect I experience, and I thoroughly recommend you the same recipe!

Churches, chapels, cathedrals... are food for peace — all of them have a magical soothing effect on human souls. In that sense, in a world like ours, they are priceless and should be preserved.

By writing a
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In response to the fire that engulfed the Notre Dame Cathedral on April 15, 2019, Ken Follett has put together this short piece to discuss the importance of this edifice. While news reports discussed the historic nature of this stone building, Follett points to a few other aspects that the reader might not have known. It took a great deal of time in the 12th century to erect this building, complete with spires so that it could be seen across the French countryside. It was so iconic that literary ...more
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ken-follett
Ken Follet's writing is undoubtedly the greatest comfort for me. It is not too flowery or too simple. It's just right: peace and solace!

This little book is very special, it comes from the heart. Ken Follett's love for cathedrals is undeniable, something that influenced me largely after my reading of Pillars of the Earth.

This book is very interesting. It mentions the very beginning of the construction and the tremendous importance that the people have on such a collective work of art. It also
Oct 31, 2019 rated it liked it
I expected more about the cathedral and its history
And less about the pillars of the earth haha

Randal White
What a great little book to start off the New Year! I found it our local library, while waiting for the kids to do some homework. At only 63 pages, it took less than an hour to read. Written by Follett immediately after the fire, you can absolutely feel his passion. Filled with quickly absorbed facts about the cathedral. Makes history so easy and fun. Bravo!
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book because it was written by Ken Follett and I have enjoyed several of his novels. This is a wonderful essay about the history of the great cathedral, Notre Dame. This was a fascinating read that delved into how the cathedral was built and the people who built it. This cathedral has evolved many times. There were various incarnations as different architects were involved over time. The book also provided some very interesting history on the life of Victor Hugo and the writing ...more
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ken Follett words spoke to me. I consider myself not a "church goer" -- I am more connected to the Universe, (God), when I am outside under skies of every season. But I have a love for walking around an empty church. I have visited many churches and a few cathedrals. And I do become "enraptured". "It is certainly true of cathedrals. Our encounters with them are emotional. When we see them we are awestruck. When we walk around we are enraptured by their grace and light. When we sit quietly we are ...more
Anna Maria
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ken Follett is one of my favourite authors and I am happy to have read this special book that he wrote donating its proceeds to La Fondation du Patrimoine, this is something precious that made me esteem the writer even more. I have been to Paris and was enchanted by this wonderful Cathedral and reading this interesting little book that describes its history captured my attention even more.
I highly recommend this book, especially that all its rights will go towards the reconstruction of the
Colleen Martin
I know this was only meant to be a brief, observational essay, but it was really too brief to satisfy any kind of historical or informational craving. I probably will go back and re-read Pillars of the Earth though.
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
‘I believe that a novel is successful to the extent that it touches the emotions of the reader. And something similar may be true of all works of art. It is certainly true of cathedrals. Our encounters with them are emotional. When we see them, we are awestruck. When we walk around, we are enraptured by their grace and light. When we sit quietly, we are possessed by a sense of peace.
And when one burns, we weep.’
Valerie Campbell Ackroyd
I bought this book at Shakespeare and Co in Paris, around the corner from Notre Dame. It seemed an appropriate thing to do although I confess I have never actually read any of Ken Follett's novels. He penned this very short (63 page) book after he watched Notre Dame burn 15 April 2019. All profits go to the restoration effort.

I share Follett's love for, admiration of, wonder at, cathedrals. I was lucky to grow up in a North American city that has, I believe, more churches, and "old" (for North
Natacha Pavlov
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, history
"Une cathédrale est une oeuvre d'art, mais elle n'a jamais été l'invention personneld'un seul individu." (A cathedral is a work of art, but it has never been the personal invention of a single individual.)
This is a brief yet potent glimpse into the impact of cathedrals, and itsrole in inspiring his most famous novel, The Pillars of the Earth. One of myfavorite parts touches on how such a monumental project drew workers of both genders from near and far.The title will be available in Englishon
Follett wasn’t kidding when he subtitled this a “short” history of cathedrals. It’s 40 pages long.

It’s also incredibly simplistic, both the writing and the (minimal) information included.

This would be a good basic primer for someone who knows absolutely nothing about Notre Dame or medieval cathedral building, but if you’re even moderately educated on the subject, there’s not much in this book that you won’t already know.
Sydney Young
Short essay helping me think about this Cathedral, and its history in fact and literature. Beautiful.
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian, historic
This is a short little essay about Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris. It was written by Ken Follett in response to the news of the fire at the same cathedral. In this essay he writes about the many groups of people who came together to build it over the course of generations. He also writes about how Victor Hugo inspired a new appreciation for a very old building and how a cathedral is a work of art just as a painting or a piece of literature is.
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Written in response to the fire at Nôtre Dame earlier this year, this book is essentially an oversized pamphlet, a long essay about the construction and subsequent renovations of the world famous cathedral.
I’ve never visited this most famous of cathedrals, so I learned a bit about its construction and the monument it is to both God and science, the accomplishments of humankind.
I like that the proceeds from the book are going towards the reconstruction efforts.
Sandra Edwards
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A loving tribute

Well written, concise, and historical. Thank you Mr. Follett for creating this short account. I am happy to contribute to the rebuilding of Notre dame purchasing this booklet.
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is really an essay rather than a book, however it was interesting albeit brief
Maria Carmo
Ken Follett inspired himself in Notre-Dame when he wrote Pillars of the Earth... So he tells us in this small, but touching book, an homage to this incredible Cathedral ... The fire shocked and moved most of us, used as we were to consider it probably the ex-Librium of Paris and a monument to Christian Civilization... I had much the same experience: I was staying in Évora (a magnificent city too, with its monuments and world heritage status) when TV's started transmitting live, as Notre-Dame ...more
Dec 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did not actually read this in French, but what the hell, I'm too lazy to fix it now. This is a sweet little essay.
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Using his incredible researching talents, Ken Follett gives a brief show of important events in the history of Notre-Dame Cathedral. He reveals the influence Notre Dame had on his writing of the beloved novel, "Pillars of the Earth", but also Victor Hugo's classic "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame". This may be a short history but it certainly motivated me to learn more. I think it's wonderful that Ken Follett is donating all his proceeds from this book to charity.
Megan Michaels
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well worth reading

Absolutely amazing. Well worth the read...has inspired me to read Pillars of the Earth again in preparation for the prequel
Only really informative for someone with limited knowledge of Notre Dame's history, but since I am that someone, I appreciated this.
Sep 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
first thank you to NET GALLEY for a copy of this book.

The love that Ken Follett has for Notre-Dame is quite evident in this small book with a very big heart. After the recent fire, he was moved to put forth his knowledge of the the history of the cathedral for all to share. An interesting and worthwhile read.
O Prism
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brief essay written by the amazing Ken Follett, truly a love story to Paris and Notre Dame, written shortly after the fire that nearly destroyed the historic cathedral. If you enjoy history come to life and cathedrals, you will want to read this. Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher and Mr. Follett for an ARC. Opinions are my own.
Marcy Heller
Nov 02, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Historic Repetition

As a part-time resident of Paris for many years, I too felt enormous pain as Noted Dame burned. As a fan of Follett, I looked forward to reading this essay. How disappointed I was to read a rehashing of what I already knew, in what I would describe as a freshman English paper. Missing from this was any new perspective nor any discussion of the current efforts and arguments regarding its current reconstruction, the proposed designs for a new tower etc. I also expected there to
Received an ARC courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley. Proceeds from the books will go to rebuilding fund.
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This essay was written by Follett in reaction to the recent fire at the Norte Dame cathedral, and its proceeds (as well as Follett’s royalties) are being donated to a charity for the rebuilding. This essay is personal and contemplative, more about what cathedrals mean to society rather than a straight history of either the cathedral or the fire. It’s clear how important Norte Dame has been to the author personally, and he does a lovely job of using vignettes to show the place the cathedral has ...more
Mark Noble
Ken Follett wrote this short book over the course of a week just a few days after Notre Dame de Paris caught fire this year, on April 15. It is, for sure, not his best writing, but Notre-Dame: A Short History of the Meaning of Cathedrals is worth the short time it takes to read. It is a series of essays, each one highlighting a different perspective on cathedrals over the years, which as a whole, becomes a moving tribute to what many believe to be the most important cathedral in the western ...more
Diane Hernandez
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss
The burning and partial destruction of Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral in April 2019 was shown on television worldwide. People everywhere were grief-stricken and shocked that such a monument to mankind’s ingenuity and perserverance could fall. But it impacted Ken Follett, best-selling author of The Pillars of the Earth, even more. After all, his book was about the fall and rebuilding of a fictional cathedral. He had researched gothic cathedrals extensively. After receiving repeated requests from ...more
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Ken Follett is one of the world’s most successful authors. Over 165 million copies of the 31 books he has written have been sold in over 80 countries and in 33 languages.
Born on June 5th, 1949 in Cardiff, Wales, the son of a tax inspector, Ken was educated at state schools and went on to graduate from University College, London, with an Honours degree in Philosophy – later to be made a Fellow of
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“Io credo che un romanzo sia riuscito quando tocca le emozioni del lettore. Lo stesso può valere per tutte le creazioni artistiche.
Di sicuro è così per le cattedrali.
Quando le vediamo stagliarsi contro il cielo restiamo sbalorditi, quando le visitiamo restiamo affascinati dalla loro grazia. Quando ci sediamo in silenzio proviamo un gran senso di pace.
E quando una cattedrale brucia, piangiamo.”
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