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Publisher's Summary

A sweeping story about obsession, mysticism, art and earthly desire. 

At the centre of this story is the Cathedral. Its design and construction in the 13th and 14th centuries in the fictional town of Hagenburg unites a vast array of unforgettable characters whose fortunes are inseparable from the shifting political factions and economic interests vying for supremacy. From the bishop to his treasurer, from local merchants to lowly stonecutters, the fate of everyone, both Gentile and Jew, is affected by the slow rise of Hagenburg’s cathedral, a holy building growing over an often unholy city. 

Around this narrative core, Ben Hopkins has constructed his own monumental edifice, a choral novel that is rich with the vicissitudes of mercantilism, politics, religion and human enterprise. Ambitious, immersive, a remarkable feat of imagination, Cathedral deftly combines historical fiction, the literary novel of ideas and a tale of adventure and intrigue.

Fans of authors like Umberto Eco, Elif Shafak, Hilary Mantel, Ken Follett and Jose Saramago will delight at the atmosphere, the beautiful prose and the vivid characters of Ben Hopkins’ Cathedral.

©2021 Ben Hopkins (P)2021 W F Howes

Critic Reviews

"Cathedral is a brilliantly organized mess of great, great characters. It is fascinating, fun, and gripping to the very end." (Roddy Doyle, Booker Prize-winning author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha)

"A thoroughly engrossing, beautifully told look at human frailty." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)  

What listeners say about Cathedral

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Interesting description of life in the Middle Ages

Tracing the fortunes of a family from its humble beginnings as shepherds to its rise to wealth and power, we meet a variety of characters, Bishops, Lords and ladies and learn about their sufferings and successes. A wonderful collection of stories of the Middle Ages.

4 people found this helpful

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Excellent, sweeping yet taught

Thought this was great - long and rich, with a diverse cast of characters; practical motives and a believable plot that brought out an intense empathy you rarely feel for the cast of a typical historical novel. Couldn’t recommend more.

2 people found this helpful

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Engrossing, illuminating, moving

Construction of a cathedral in medieval Germany: sounds dry to you? Not at all. This panoramic historical novel is peopled with such nuanced characters, and paints such suspenseful events, that you don't even realize you're getting a detailed history lesson. I was moved to tears by the wistful, hopeful, sarcastic, bereaved and striving characters, whose highly individualized narrative voices made them so real from childhood to old age. Calculating church officials, greedy merchants, shepherd boys are brought to life.

The utter corruption of the Catholic Church is the big takeaway: Rome as a hotbed of crime, competition and ambition; European bishops taxing their subjects to death as they each vie to build the most glorious cathedral; the shameful exploitation and victimization of 'heretics' and especially the Jews; the gullible nature of the public in any town. A rising tradesman class and decadent nobles struggle to dominate lands and resources, alternating bloody armed clashes and bureaucratic chicanery.

It's quite a story. The narration is flawless and evocative.

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Artful weaving!

I thoroughly enjoyed the intertwining of the characters stories. The sharing of the story between the church, the Jews, etc. became more and more infixing with each passing chapter. The insight into the brutality of the times makes one shudder.

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I Truly Love This Book

Just the right amount of character development. Wonderful progression of humanity through the cathedral from conception onward. Great choice of narrators as well.

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  • Winnie
  • 11-27-21

interesting.

Good listen. became more despondent about humanity and the churn of life as it went on. narration excellent.