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Instance of the Fingerpost Buddy Read

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message 1: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
This topic is for the Buddy Read of:

The Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears

We can have general discussion anytime, but we will have an in-depth discussion of chapters one through ten starting on Wednesday. New chapter schedules will be posted on Wednesdays

** If someone gets ahead of the schedule please be careful of spoilers.

Schedule One:

Chapter One pages 3 - 8

Chapter Two pages 9- 21

Chapter Three pages 22 - 32

Chapter Four pages 33 - 45

Chapter Five pages 46 - 53

Chapter Six pages 54- 63

Chapter Seven pages 64-70

Chapter Eight pages 71 -78

Chapter Nine pages 79 - 83

Chapter Ten pages 84 - 88

message 2: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa Read this a wee while ago and will be dropping in now and again to read how everyone's doing and maybe throw my tuppence worth in. Will be good to see other's reactions to the book.
It's 4 views of the same events that slowly allow you to see things from all the angles. Are any of the views more valid? Missinformation? Self deception? I really enjoyed it, love the period.
I'd join you for a re-read but I'm on a big Dumas kick at the minute, hanging out with D'Artagnan and the boys.
Anyway, enjoy it folks.

message 3: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
So glad you will be watching over us Barbarossa. Please feel free to comment anytime because I am sure it will add to our enjoyment of the story.

message 4: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
Mystery is not my genre, but An Instance of the Fingerpost is not just a mystery--it is a Historical Mystery set during the fascinating period of “The Restoration“. It became apparent during the reading of the first ten chapters that this book is going to satisfy my yearning to learn more about this period and especially the burgeoning medical profession and the way it was viewed.

I am finding Marco da Cola a very likable character and his actions and motivations quite realistic. Of course, since I know this is a mystery I am looking at him and all of the other characters with a suspicious eye.

How are you enjoying it so far?

message 5: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
For this week - today through next Wednesday -let's read up through page 195, which will bring us to the second section "The Great Trust."

If you want to read faster, please do, but be careful of spoilers.

I hope we will keep the conversation going all week.

message 6: by Roxanne (new)

Roxanne (onlinewoman) | 35 comments I haven't gotten as far as I'd hoped yet (I'm on page 22) but I am enjoying it so far! The first chapter just kind of flew by, and though I wasn't sure where it was all leading, it was more intriguing than I'd thought it would be so soon into it. But it's not really the storyline that has me wrapped up yet, as much as the character. The Marco da Cola character, though a bit ominous, is a colorful, dynamic character, and I love how he comes to life so well. I'll catch up with the reading in the next couple of days and have more then.

message 7: by Lauren (new)

Lauren | 2 comments I'm excited to start, sorry I missed the first section but I will catch up quickly to p. 195 for next Wednesday!

message 8: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
I hope you are enjoying this book as much as I am. I am only on page 164, but I am totally engrossed in the story and fascinated by all of the characters. We now have our victim and the accused murderer, who, at this point, I am sure is not guilty. Although of questionable character, I think she is just too obvious a suspect.

I know that religious superstition was universal during that era, and medicine was a burgeoning science, but I am still amazed by some of the ignorance. The idea that part of the “spirit” is transfused with the blood seems strange to me now, but I understand why Cola was tempted to believe it then.

Lower is a dark and obsessive character and I am trying to figure out what is causing his rapid and violent mood swings. Is it possible that he is manic or addicted to a drug? What impression of Lower do you have?

message 9: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa Wait...I'm sure your impression of him will change as the view shifts...and possibly change again. Is the first version of events any more reliable than the ones to come? So far do you think anyone is what they seem? I'm not saying everyone is super complex, but any theories?

message 10: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod

I have not formed any theories yet, but I am sure there is a lot more to Sarah than has so far become apparent.

I may not be too good at this mystery stuff because I am so distracted by all of Pears wonderful details of the period that I am probably missing a lot of clues.

message 11: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa Aye, at times I was glad it wasn't a scratch and sniff book. Some fairly manky period detail.
Actually...I wonder if they still make scratch and sniff books?

message 12: by Roxanne (last edited Nov 30, 2008 07:18PM) (new)

Roxanne (onlinewoman) | 35 comments Okay I finally have a chance to comment. I've read to the next section. The book is rather surprising in that, given today's action-packed, entertainment every minute mentality, this book really goes into a good bit of detail on nearly everything and at times appears to just go on, and on, and on with the details. What's interesting though is that I don't seem to get bored with it!

Particularly intriguing for me though, are the philosophical discussions, and the metaphysical glimpse into the past. The John Locke character is especially intriguing since I'm a fan of his, but his character doesn't get much ink.

Although I'm really enjoying the book, I will admit occasional bouts of "what the heck?", trying to figure out when a main story line will really shine through. Though the murder has happened, there has been so much more discussion of the girl's mother, and her transfusion and all that surrounded the scientific discoveries of the day, that it had me wondering if maybe I was missing the plot line too? I'm really hoping the next section will shed more light on what is happening. Since so many others have enjoyed the book, all I can think of is that when more depth about the murder and story are revealed, it will be one of those "ahhhhhhhhhhh" moments, and everything will click.

As for the characters, my thoughts are there is much more going on than just the content of the story itself. I am sensing a deeper theme; like a super-reality, in which the characters are really mere shadows for something more consequential.

Specifically, the focus on metaphysical explorations, and the contests between religion and science that were prevalent during this time. Each character appears to play a role in future developments of our world.

So, the Lower character to me represents the capitalistic, "at all costs" scientist that cares nothing for what his discoveries mean for mankind, but is self-absorbed in his own world and determined to make a name for himself no matter whom it hurts. For me his split personality represents a world in which there are kindnesses, but they are conditional. When it all comes down to it, Lower will do what is in his own best interests, as many might attribute to the western way of thinking.

The religious figures represent a look at our past, and how scared we can become when our vision of the world is shattered or threatened by something new. We may intellectually recognize the advantages of modern medicine, but we hold fast to old ways of thinking because it is more comfortable, and change scares us, much like the description of the rural villagers who were insistent upon having their blood let.

Now Cola, he's an interesting and intriguing character, and I see him as representing what is good about our past, and what is also good about our future. He always seems straddle the line between the two - utilizing some of his knowledge of old ways of doing things and mixing it with, and recognizing the merits of, the new scientific methods.

Cola also seems to be representing something that is true, and whole - someone who thinks of principle before personal gain, and who doesn't jump into something but considers alternatives first. He's charitable when he feels it will count, but yet he also recognizes that everyone in society has a place (good or bad, that's just an observation).

Wow, well I've said enough. That's what I've gotten so far, but I could easily be reading FAR more into it than I should LOL

message 13: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
Hi Roxanne,
I haven’t reached the end of the first section quite yet and will have more comments when I do.

I think you don’t find all of the details boring because they are worthy of note and relevant. The details are what give the story so much texture for me.

John Locke will, most likely, play a larger role during the upcoming sections of the book.

I think you painted a perfect picture of Lower. You hit the character right on the head--brooding, driven and self-absorbed. He will do anything to accomplish what he wants.
I Think you are correct about the contest between science and religion being a deeper theme of the story. One of the things that really bothers me is the cavalier way in which they torture helpless animals with little regard for their suffering.

What are you thinking about Sarah Blundy? Besides representing the weak position of the women of her time, there is a strength and defiance about her that I respect. I may be way off on that, but I do sense something brave about her.

message 14: by Roxanne (last edited Dec 01, 2008 07:00AM) (new)

Roxanne (onlinewoman) | 35 comments Hello Sydney! Yes, Sarah is an interesting character. Now that I've realized that each section is from another perspective, it changes somewhat my thoughts about a few of the characters, specifically her. Her characterization in the new section I'm not so sure about, but as for Cola's description, there's no question she is defiant and a complex source of consternation for the men she encounters. I'm not yet convinced, however, that she represents women, in particular. Somehow I have a feeling her defiance has more to do with what is not being told about her, specifically how intelligent she is, and her obvious involvement in illegal medical practice (or homeopathic medicine or something?). Jury is still out on that gal, but I love her spunk so far!

message 15: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
Sarah was educated somehow, she can read and write and she has medical knowledge. Homeopathic Medicine…………….mmmmmm? Interesting.

You mentioned the contrast between science and religion. Lower and Cola do represent the conflict between religion and science. On page 124 where Lower says: “You believe science is obliged to prove itself?” And Cola answers: “I do. Otherwise it sets itself up as an equal to religion, not its servant, and the consequences of that are too awful to contemplate.”

message 16: by Roxanne (new)

Roxanne (onlinewoman) | 35 comments Yes, my thoughts from the beginning were that Sarah was somehow involved in some "treatments" with Ward that may have led to his death. It was her reactions to his death that made me believe not that she killed him, but that she knows what happened.

As for the science/religion conflict, no question there. Will be interesting to see how this plays out in the other sections, if at all.

message 17: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
We have finished the first section, A Question of Precedence, and it was quite an experience.

Tomorrow will begin the second section, The Great Trust, starting on page 199 and ending on page 372. We should have no problem finishing the second section by next Wednesday. If you read faster, just please be careful of “Spoilers.”

I can't wait to look at this story from a completely different point of view, and discuss it along the way.

message 18: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
I was amazed to discover that Prescott was the narrator of the second section. I would have never guessed it would be him. I should have known from the blurb on the inside cover, but I had forgotten about it as I became absorbed in the first section.

I have not read very far into the section yet, but I am loving it. This book is just dripping with history and that, after all, is why I love reading historical novels. How different things look through Prescott’s eyes. Even the physical picture I had of Cola in my mind is a totally different image now.

message 19: by Roxanne (new)

Roxanne (onlinewoman) | 35 comments I am not quite 1/2 way through the second section. I'm enjoying the second section, but I felt the first was more lively. Some of my thoughts about characters remain as they were so far, but others have changed, including my view of Prescott, which makes sense since he didn't get much characterization the first section.

There's something about Prescott I don't like much - I'm not sure if it is his tone, or his words, or something else, but something seems off? I can't really explain it, but he seems so defensive and negative. Hmm.. I think I'll have to reserve more judgment on it until I finish the section.

What do you think of Prescott Sydney?

message 20: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
I agree with you about Prescott. I would like to like him, but he has a rather condescending attitude.

Women of that time who were herbalists and midwives were very often branded witches. Sarah was a very knowledgeable herbalist. That knowledge was most likely handed down to her by her mother.

In the first section, when Mrs. Blundy was dying some of her last words were, “God forgive me.” For some reason that haunts me and I know it has important implications in the story.

The religious intolerance of the time is important to the story. Sarah Blundy was a Quaker, perhaps even an important leader of the movement. The Quaker movement acknowledged the equal rights of women and promoted education - so that is most likely how Sarah was educated.

message 21: by Roxanne (new)

Roxanne (onlinewoman) | 35 comments Yup yup!! GREAT ideas here! I see now the significance of the Quaker element (wasn't for sure how it fit other than just being a significant historic story).

I also agree that Mrs. Blundy's dying words are haunting. I am still of the belief that somehow Sarah was trying to help, and it resulted in death instead. Of course knowing the time period, her being a woman, practicing "medicine", etc., she probably knew whether she told her story or not, she would be hanged.

message 22: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
Ya, I think Sarah was covering for someone or something. I am only half way through the section too so I am sure we will have more notes to compare by the time we get to the end.

message 23: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
Hi, I am on page 335 so if you have not read that far there may be "Spoilers" here.

Part II The Great Trust

I am just about at the end of the second section and I have found it a bit confusing and I have had some trouble keeping all of the characters and their motives straight in my mind. There is so much of “everything” in this story that it often makes my head spin. I’m glad I won’t be given a test at the end of this section (smile).

One of the strangest characters introduced was Greatorex the Irish astrologer and necromancer. There were a lot of such people practicing during that period because religious superstition was so prevalent. Prescott is being tortured and tormented by his own inner demons. He does have a conscience and all of the very bad things that he has done have been internalized.

There are a few omens that can’t be ignored: The astrological natal chart that Greatorex created that was so much like that of Iscariot - the Judas who betrayed Jesus into the hands of the Roman authorities. And the single crow that flew into the carriage that Prescott deeply believes was a very bad omen.

I must say that we were certainly correct in “disliking” Prescott. He is certainly not an honorable man. He is a rapist and woman beater, which I am convinced is a product of his relationship with his mother. Of course, I don’t mean that as an excuse, only a partial explanation.

He destroyed Sarah’s life, not only by the attack, but he caused the loss of her reputation and livelihood. I think he, more than anyone, was responsible for her being found guilty and hanged. Of all of the dishonorable things he has done I was most upset by his betrayal of Kitty after she had shown him such kindness and helped him so much.

Thomas Ken has emerged as a suspect for the murder of Grove. He has grown to hate Grove and has a good motive to want him dead and out of the way. Of course, I am sure he is, like Sarah Blundy, too obvious a suspect.

I will finish this section today and will be ready to compare notes as soon as you have finished.

message 24: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa Sydney, you say "I have had some trouble keeping all of the characters and their motives straight in my mind".
I find that I "cast" books and this helps with huge numbers of characters. As I have an unlimited budget (due to the imaginary nature of the exercise) some books have had many Oscar worthy faces in them...others populated by soap actors.
Anyway, it works for me...

message 25: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
Thanks for the idea of casting. I will give it a try and see if it works for me.

I want to thank you for introducing me to this book/author. I would have never picked it up if not for your adding it to our shelf.

message 26: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa Glad you're enjoying it.

message 27: by Roxanne (new)

Roxanne (onlinewoman) | 35 comments Sydney I'll be finishing Section II soon and will give some comments then. I didn't read your comments so as not to ruin anything or bias my thoughts LOL

message 28: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
OK Great. Read my last comments when you have finished the section or after your next posting.

I hope you are enjoying it.

message 29: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
Hi Roxanne,
How are you doing with the second section?

message 30: by Roxanne (last edited Dec 09, 2008 06:55AM) (new)

Roxanne (onlinewoman) | 35 comments It seemed like this section would NEVER end, but I finally finished last night. WOW. That was something. First as to your previous comments, I too have never liked Prescott. I wanted to in the beginning, but his blatant admittances of all the nasty things he has done really gave me a bad taste for him. The thing is though, his admissions, considering the time, were not so huge. So he raped and beat Sarah, she was a woman. So he betrayed Kitty (which I hated the most as well, since she did nothing but try to help) she was a whore. Who, back then, would have argued that he did anything truly "wrong" in these cases.

I suspect that, as I've mentioned previously, de Cola represents some form of the changes going on during this period, in religion, science, and even in relation to other people 'below' their stations. In that vein, Prescott perhaps represents the way things "are" (I'd say used to be, but I'm not sure that change had happened enough yet to make this old way of thinking old). I have no idea about this theory at all, what does anyone else think about it?

I also do not believe that Thomas is guilty. It was obvious from the narrative that Prescott never gave him a chance to "tell all", even when he tried too.

And, there is much that is missing I think. He was quick to point out how de Cola had failed to mentioned much of what happened, but I sense a lot of holes in Prescott's story as well.

In some ways, Prescott represents this all-encompassing "it's about me" reality. With de Cola, he was conscientious about himself and his needs, but he had an awareness of others that is lacking in the case of Prescott. And what happens when a man is ultra-focused on his, and only his, needs, wants and desires? He is tortured, not by others, but through his own mind. I feel the "omens" may have perhaps been only in Prescott's mind. Despite his insistence that Sarah had put spells on him, I think the demons he felt were internal. And in fact, given the religious context in the storyline, one might even venture to say that internal demons are at the very heart of all that is evil about humans.

I could be way off base, but I still hold to my original assessment that the characters portray more than simple storyline. It seems to me that each is significant in representing a part of human existence. Also significant is that in the end, Prescott appears to have gained everything he set out to get. He got his name, reputation, mansion on the hill. Could the message be, do whatever you have to, kill, rape, mame.. in the end if you find the right people and convince them, you'll do alright?

But, on to the next section. considering what I've read so far, I'm sure the next will be a doosie!!

message 31: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
This book encompasses so much and makes you really work to read it that it is a little tedious at times. There is so much information about the restoration, general history of the period and each character individually that I often find it hard to absorb it all.

Yes, I agree that Prescott’s attitude towards women and the way he treated them was - pretty common behavior/attitude during that period. He does seem pretty smug right now, but I bet he will get his due before the story ends.

Very interesting observation that you make about da Cola representing change and Prescott representing the present time. Your observation rings true with me.

Now - on to the next section. We are actually a little ahead of schedule.


message 32: by Roxanne (new)

Roxanne (onlinewoman) | 35 comments Yes, I'm not sure if the whole analogy thing works, or if I'm just reading too much into it, but time will tell! (or maybe I'll just get to keep my delusional fantasy ideas regardless ;-)

message 33: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
Do you remember any "clues" in the first section that would have hinted that da Cola was not what he seemed?

Let's try to finish this third section by next Wednesday.

message 34: by Roxanne (new)

Roxanne (onlinewoman) | 35 comments Clues.. hmm. Not from the first section. In the second section it appears he may be trying to hide something since Prescott had more information about some of the conversations that happened which involved Cola. But de Cola's character is so much more believable that it's hard for me see that as a negative concern. Do you have some in mind?

message 35: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
No, I don't remember anything specific. I just think there had to be a clue or two there even though he was narrating. It has become apparent that he is not who he represented himself to be.

It will be interesting, at the end of the book, to go back over our posts and see if we hit anything on the nose!

message 36: by Roxanne (new)

Roxanne (onlinewoman) | 35 comments Well I just started reading section 3 last night, and now your inquiry above makes more sense! WOW this guy is intense huh. You know it is interesting to me how important "first impressions" are! I still can't shake this "de Cola seemed so fair and balanced" feeling. It is hard for me to think "maybe he was lying!" DANG, I'm starting to see why so many loved this book now! It keeps you going huh!

message 37: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod

I have been reading this section in little pieces and I have probably missed a lot. My interest in the history and the people of that period are also a distraction. The research that Pears did for this book must have been tremendous. I keep stopping and reading up on one of the individuals, the Royal Society, cryptography, etc. I am at the part where he is explaining his version of the Blundy family's involvement in all of this so my ears have perked up again!

Did you get the distinct impression that Wallis’ love for William was not strictly parental??

message 38: by Roxanne (new)

Roxanne (onlinewoman) | 35 comments Oh yes, there is definitely something amiss there! I haven't gotten as far as you, but this guy is .. well, historically he's just true to character for his position. Religious figures tended to be quite arrogant because they kinda "ruled" the world (so to speak). He is definitely NO exception. And the Williams discussions are kinda creeping me out honestly!

message 39: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
This book is truly amazing and I am beginning to feel it starting to knit together are you?

I am still feeling that Cola is not the villainous character that Dr. Willis believes he is. The truth about Cola will certainly be unraveled in the next and final section.

Dr. Willis is in favor of shipping everyone who does not remain faithful to the Church of England off to America for punishment; he is a zealot and that is what is driving him to be so suspicious and distrusting. The nature of his work is perfect for him.

The truth about the Blundys is coming to the forefront and I can’t wait to find out everything about them!

message 40: by Roxanne (new)

Roxanne (onlinewoman) | 35 comments This section is truly intense huh! Not only are we getting iterations of "new" stories about de Cola (I'm not sure I buy it all though) but yes, new stuff about Blundys too. What's really interesting is how the story is now intertwining, and we begin to see how each person played their part (even if the stories don't match!) The historical content is intense though. Do you think there is some "reason" for that, other than making for a very indepth historic read? I mean, does it mean anything to the story that we're getting so many details? Is it because the "clues" are then hidden easier, in the mix of all the details? I'm not complaining, but each time I read I think of something an old professor used to say about MY writing! "You always tend to write 2 paragraphs when 1 sentence would suffice." LOL Are you feeling any of that?

message 41: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod

Pears is a true “Historian” and he certainly knows his stuff about this period. There are a lot of clues to the story buried in all of the history, but I am sure I am missing most of them! I am also sure that some of the historical facts could have been left out without hurting the story. Your professor was a smart man (smile.)

I get the feeling that we are both fans of Cola - hope we are not disappointed in the end.

message 42: by Roxanne (new)

Roxanne (onlinewoman) | 35 comments That's a good point! But it is difficult to like either the Prescott or the Willis characters - they're so arrogant and hoity toity like LOL But that could just be a 21st century perspective.

message 43: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
This was quite a chapter! Feminism, murder, political intrigue, assassination plots… We are, at last, on the verge of discovering the real truth, “the instance of the fingerpost”, so to speak.

I have heard that the way everything fits together in the last section is nothing short of amazing and I am anxious to discover how this is going to end.

message 44: by Roxanne (new)

Roxanne (onlinewoman) | 35 comments Well I haven't quite finished yet, but WOW!! That Wallis/Williams thing.. yipes. He is such a hypocrite! You know, to say that religion, at least in this country, has lost much of its reputation would be putting it lightly. This chapter just epitomizes WHY that is! Oy oy. So I'm nearly done! I'll be ready to give full analysis of the chapter tomorrow, but I'm also looking forward to how it all comes together!

message 45: by Roxanne (last edited Dec 18, 2008 02:15AM) (new)

Roxanne (onlinewoman) | 35 comments Well let me tell you, this is something huh! The story that Wallis weaves is so different than the first two! What I'm wondering now is how in the world will all these stories come together into any kind of "real" story? But the best part of this book so far is the amazing look not just into the past, and how people thought and felt, and where we've come from, but a look into the minds of individuals, regardless of space and time.

If you really think about it, couldn't you pinpoint someone you know today that represents each of the three people we've seen so far? And, could you see these people having similar stories (hopefully they didn't murder anyone but this is fiction after all!)? I know I could find the same personality types in people I know, and see them providing similar stories.

First, the quieter, less-spoken but highly educated foreigner (literally or figuratively), second, the spurned, revenge-seeking, self-serving yuppy. And third, the one who believes that he, and everything he does, is somehow the "right" way to think, behave, act and feel, and doesn't recognize his own hypocrisies.

I can't WAIT to get to the end!! I'm digging into the final section now and will report as I go. I'll try to make comments in generalities, though, so as not to spoil anything!

message 46: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod

Yes - you are right about people,they have not changed very much from that time to this. I to am anxious to see all of the story come together and finally get to the end of the book! I have found it laborious at times, of course, I keep stopping to delve into the history a bit more.

I was not surprised that Anthony Wood was the narrator of the last section and would be the one to put all of the ducks in a row so to speak. After all, putting facts together accurately and preserving them for the future is what he was all about.

Some of the information I have found about Wood casts an interesting shadow on his character. Here is an example of what I mean: Wood lived in Oxford as a near recluse close to Merton College, where he matriculated and in whose chapel he was buried.
A deaf, bitter, and suspicious man, Wood quarreled with his family, patrons, and the fellows of his college. His biographical sketches contain many spiteful criticisms of contemporaries. One such passage in the Athenae Oxonienses accused the 1st Earl of Clarendon of corruption, and it led to Wood’s conviction of libel and his expulsion from the university.

I have a feeling this last section is going to go pretty quickly for me so feel free to make any comments you like.

You have been a wonderful reading buddy and your input and company have made the reading of this book an enjoyable adventure.

message 47: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod

I finished the book yesterday. If you have not finished it yet, there are definitely SPOILERS BELOW……………

As this book came closer and closer to its conclusion, I became less and less interested in who killed Grove. The book never felt like a murder mystery to me at all. What I found most interesting about this book were the details concerning science, politics and the religious conflicts of the period.

What happened to Sarah after her “hanging” was pretty shocking! She was one of the most amazing characters in the story. Being a healer and a prophet, she could easily have been believed to be a saint by her followers, if the religious climate in England had been more tolerant at the time. I say that because it seemed as though she had returned from the dead, but of course there were physiological explanations for her come back.

I am glad that the first impressions and beliefs that we both had about da Cola were correct--he was a good man. He was a man who had to keep his identity and mission an absolute secret. He was, in fact, a Jesuit priest who had come to serve the King in the Catholic religion.

The reason Cola was so horrified when Sarah exposed herself to him was because he was a priest and did not want to be tempted by his carnal desires. When Wood found the bottles hidden in Cola’s trunk I did not know what he had discovered, but soon realized that they were holy oil, holy water and a sacred relic (They were obsessed with sacred relics in those days).

The author certainly did a thorough job of tying up all of the ends in this fourth and final section. This book was an incredible undertaking and certainly gives you insight into the author’s mind and intellect. I am glad that I have read it and I am sure that I am not even aware of all of the things I have taken away from the experience. I am giving this book a “4” and, while it will not be listed as one of my favorites, it is one I am sure I will not soon forget.

Thank you for sharing this reading experience with me and I hope we will be reading buddies again in the near future. What was your overall view of the story?

Happy Holidays

message 48: by Roxanne (new)

Roxanne (onlinewoman) | 35 comments Hey Sydney! Just wanted to let you know that I haven't read ur final summary yet because I decided to go back and review aspects of the first three sections before I finished the book. After reviewing the first and second section so far, I feel I have a far better handle on the characters and events, and it is making a ton more sense to me! Although I had an overall feeling on the first read, the second time I'm getting a more holistic vision of the characters I didn't get the first time! I'm hoping it will make the last section even that much more interesting for me! I'll be sure to post a summary here when I'm done though :)

You were also a marvelous buddy read partner! I hadn't realized how much more fun a book can be when there are others who you can share ideas with as you are reading. Thanks for sharing this book! I just ordered another of Pears' books that develops the story similar to this one, and I'm looking forward to reading that one too!

Hope you had a marvelous holiday break with family and friends and are looking to the new year!

message 49: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
Wonderful Roxanne. I will look forward to your summary.

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