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Publisher's Summary

In the year 1605, a young, pregnant widow seeks sanctuary at the Abbey of Sainte Marie-de-la-mer. After the birth of her daughter, she takes up the veil, and a new name, Soeur Auguste. But the peace she has found is shattered five years later by the events that follow the death of her kind benefactress, the Reverend Mother.

When a new abbess arrives at Sainte Marie-de-la-mer, she does not arrive alone. With her is her personal confessor and spiritual guide, Pere Colombin, a man Soeur Auguste knows all too well. The newcomer is Guy LeMerle, now masquerading as a priest, and the one man she fears more than any other.

Soeur Auguste has a secret. Once she was l'Ailee, star performer of a troupe led by LeMerle, before betrayal forced her to change her identity.

But now the past has found her. To protect herself and her beloved child, l'Ailee will have to perform one last act of dazzling daring more audacious than any she has previously attempted.

©2004 Joanne Harris; (P)2004 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Spicy characterizations, tart dark humor, and seductively pungent prose." (Publishers Weekly)
"[A] riot of an end-of-Renaissance romance. ... Holy Fools itself reads like a play unfolding, from exposition with clear foreshadowing through stagelike scenes, to the artfully suspenseful climax, set in an incense-thick, candle-lit sanctuary, with nuns wailing and whirling, and the three conflicts converging and poised for catastrophe." (Denver Post)
"Much more than a tale of revenge and redemption, Holy Fools delves into maternal bonds, love and betrayal, 17th-century politics, and the abusive power of the church....dazzling and dramatic." (Bookmarks Magazine)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Janet
  • Pinehurst, NC, USA
  • 08-05-04

Dark but compelling

Marvelously read, this lush historical focuses on the methods used by an unprincipled villain as he preys on the natural human failings he finds contained in a very small religious community, and the stong woman who combats his influence. I'm reasonably sure potatoes were not cultivated in France in 1610, but aside from that acronism, I was lost in the medieval world Harris created. Please give us more from Suzanne Bertish!

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Beautifully done, lovely reading.

The book itself is well paced, beautifully plotted and well characterized. Ms. Harris did not miss a trick; she caught all of the spirit of the age, down to the tensions between Huguenots and Catholics leading to a more fundamentalist backlash on theology and behavior within the Catholic world. (And the potatoes are correct; once introduced to France in the 16th C., they quickly became a delicacy and a very important cash crop, much like convents who now support themselves on jam or printer cartridges.) The reading is enjoyable and never dull or monotonal.

The only reason that I did not give this audio book full marks is that the music at the chapter breaks is annoying and was recorded at a volume considerably louder than that of the reading. Thus, it's rather jarring to listen to.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Holy Fools

I found the relationship between I'Allee and her Blackbird intriguing. A chemistry (could it be love?) between them that permeated through time and a cast of most interesting characters. The narration was wonderful.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • cristina
  • Somerville, MA, United States
  • 03-04-13

This review might not apply to you

If you like dramatized (trivialized) "historical fiction," then you might like this. (Please ignore this review.) I normally don't. Downloaded this because I stumbled on the author's "Gentlemen and Players" and thoroughly enjoyed it. Could not find a similar book in her (very diverse, it seems) bibliography and went for this.

A mistake.

Could not make it past the third chapter. First of all, the only semi-interesting thing about the story (thought it could turn out to be semi gothic) is given up in the publisher's preview (and by the author in the first ten minutes)...I have been listening and listening but nothing is taking that plot line (that a medieval dancer had a child and became a nun in a cloister -- but is now faced with discovery) any farther than the shallow plot I just described. What KIND of book does this author want to write? Gentlemen and Players? (I might be getting the title slightly wrong) was TOTALLY different from this. The "Chocolat" series? (saw the movie -- book not available on Audible) was different from both....PLEASE, more Gentlemen & Players! (In my own personal book, "Holy Fools" qualifies for a "refund" from Audible.)

I thought the narrator was awful as well. It was like if SHE thought the book was awful and was just playing up its absurdity. I tried (was listening to this during a long drive), but I simply couldn't take the exaggerated delivery.

Audible should allow "half" stars and also "zero" stars. In my book (again -- NOT your book if you like 'trivialized' history), this deserved zero.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful