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Notre-Dame: A Short History of the Meaning of Cathedrals

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3.92  ·  Rating details ·  6,270 ratings  ·  463 reviews

Ken Follett will donate his proceeds from this book to the charity La Fondation du Patrimoine.

‘The wonderful cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, one of the greatest achievements of European civilization, was on fire. The sight dazed and disturbed us profoundly. I was on the edge of tears. Something priceless was dying in front of our eyes. The feeling was bewildering, as if

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Kindle Edition
Published October 29th 2019 by Pan (first published 2019)
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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 all food for peace — this kind of buildings have a magical soothing effect on human souls. In that sense, in a world like ours, they are priceless and should be preser
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Matt
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
Ammar
Oct 31, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short
Concise
I expected more about the cathedral and its history
And less about the pillars of the earth haha

Bill
Apr 10, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020, france
Reading this impressionistic appreciation was something like what I imagine I would have experienced if I'd participated in a walking tour called A Day at Notre-Dame with Ken Follett, shortly after last year's fire, if there had been such a tour. It suited me, as I knew almost nothing about Notre-Dame, but am still hoping to visit sometime.

While obviously not providing a thorough history of Notre-Dame, much less of European cathedrals more broadly, Follett's essays provided enough background to
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Maria Inês
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
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happy
Aug 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-general
I really enjoyed Mr. Follett’s look at the history and cultural significance of one of the iconic sites of Paris – the Notre Dame Cathedral. At only 62 pages of text it really is a quick read – I was able to finish it in a couple of hours.

Mr Follett begins this essay with his reactions on finding out about the fire and later being asked to write up his thoughts on both the significance and history of the building. As for his thoughts, he states he was both heart sick and grateful – heart sick a
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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!
Judy
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
Jill Mackin
A very, very short history! 40 pages. Interesting.
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 cathe
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Laurene
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
Christine Boyer
Nov 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Francophiles! Notre-Dame enthusiasts
My sister gave me this book for my birthday! What a great little gem about one of my favorite places!

I was so lucky to be in Paris in 2015. My husband and I were celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. Obviously, the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris was on our itinerary. What an incredible experience! I love this quote from Follett: "I'm not a religious believer...I love the architecture, the music...". That pretty much sums up my feelings. In addition, the HISTORY is just so interesting. And in
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Kevin
Jul 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting essay on cathedrals and Notre Dame in particular.
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
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Samantha
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.
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.
Myriam
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
‘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
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Deb
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Literally, read this in 30 minutes. Unmemorable, unnecessary.
Emily
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, non-fiction
Piecemeal and fragmented and lacking both depth and a coherent thesis; I’ve obv read many men before as self-congratulatory as Follett, but it’s never a pleasant experience
bluewizard
Ideal book to read in one sitting. I wish it was longer and craved a bit deeper into the cathedral’s history. But these are some pretty well written memoir/essays!
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 worl ...more
Natacha Pavlov
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nonfiction
"Une cathédrale est une oeuvre d'art, mais elle n'a jamais été l'invention personnel d'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 its role in inspiring his most famous novel, The Pillars of the Earth. One of my favorite parts touches on how such a monumental project drew workers of both genders from near and far. The title will be available in English 
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Natalie
Apr 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cathedral and architecture lovers
Shelves: audiobook
Did I tear up, reading about the fire of Notre Dame? Yes. But did I leave lowkey wanting to read Victor Hugo and Ken Follett's larger works? Also yes. ...more
Judi Easley
Mar 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoughts: So far, this little book of only about 60 pages hasn't been getting terric ratings. A book by the best-selling author Ken Follett. What are they expecting? This isn't a total eulogy on Notre Dame, this is more like a sympathy card. He lightly covers the history of the building of the cathedral. There's no real need to go into details on this, it's been done before. That's not the purpose of this book. He touches on various points in the cathedral's history and tells anecdotes. It's lik ...more
Elizabeth
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
“For me, the cathedral is about what people can achieve when they work together....everyone benefited.”

“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 them we are enraptured by their grace and light. When we sit quietly we are possessed by a sense of peace. And when
...more
Casey Cep
In a new book that surveys the nine hundred years between when the cathedral was built and when it nearly burned down, the novelist Ken Follett explains how the gargoyles came to be part of Notre-Dame, and argues that their addition, in the nineteenth century, marked the beginning of the cathedral’s architectural and cultural renaissance. It is a timely reminder that change is a part of the life of such places and that renovation can do more than just return us to the status quo.

Full review at “
...more
Paola
Dec 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short story about Notre Dame and the building of Cathedrals.
Madame Histoire
The only fault of this was its briefness.
But this is how it was meant to be. Follett accurately, factually and simply tells the story of the most famous religious building in France and why a lot of us French have been heartbroken to see it burn.
I knew the name of course, but never dare to embark on the marathon of Follett's "Pillar of the earth" but after this, I have put it on my TBR list!
...more
Elentarri
Notre-Dame is a compilation of essays Ken Follett wrote during the week after the Notre Dame fire in April 2019. From the title I was expecting information about the history of cathedrals in general and Notre-Dame de Paris in particular, and what they mean to the local people. This isn't what the book is about. There is a short chapter that covers the history of Notre-Dame. Then there are short chapters on Victor Hugo and his book "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", the renovation of the cathedral by ...more
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45,401 followers
Ken Follett is one of the world’s most successful authors. Over 170 million copies of the 36 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 t
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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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