This was the latest book that our Book Group read and overall it was much enjoyed. It does have that all too common use these days of running an historical and modern day story lines side by side, a trait we all felt was now being over used. It also seems to suffer from heavy editing with some instances of where story lines aren’t finished, or parts of the story missed, these instances while they don’t detract from the story itself, I found mildly irritating.
The story itself is a new twist on the Grail myths, set around Carcassonne in France.
The historical element is set during the early 13th century when Alais a young woman discovers a series of secrets concerning those close to her. The events that follow, during a time when the Cathar Inquisition raged through the area, find her becoming a key player in the quest to keep the Grail secret and out of the hands of those who would wish to either destroy or misuse it. The history element is well researched and written bringing to live the horrors that happened. That being said it also flows beautifully, and amongst this is also woven a tale of love and betrayal, of friendship and faith.
The modern day story is about another woman this time Alice, who as a volunteer on an archaeological dig discovers a cave, hidden for centuries. In this discovery echoes from the past start to reverberate around her live and the lives of those she knows.
The parallels are quite clear throughout the stories although is not always totally spelled out, while the ending maybe a little too neatly ties everything up. My overall impression of the book is that despite its nearly 700 pages, it could have been far longer. It is the kind of book to take on holiday with you as it is gripping enough to help pass away the hours, but easy enough to put down and pick back up.