Thursday 4 October 2012

The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers - Book Review

Title: The Cleaner of Chartres
Author: Salley Vickers
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Publication Date: 24th October 2012
Pages: 297
Format: Paperback
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

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Agnes has lived in the sleepy town of Chartres for years. She has become ingrained in the fabric of the community; she cleans the tiled floor of the cathedral, acts as muse and model for a local artist, organises the correspondence of a befuddled academic and does the occasional spot of babysitting. But despite her involvement, the townspeople know little about this tall, elegant, stoic woman with turquoise eyes and matching pendant always around her neck. No one knows where she came from, or what stories she may have brought with her to Chartres. She is indispensable to them, but completely enigmatic.

But Agnes can’t stop the tide of gossip that comes with small-town life. When the local busybody takes a dislike to her, Agnes’s past comes stretching up into the light. What is revealed is an incredible story of grief and loss, but one that also reveals the way in which small acts of kindness can shape a person’s path in life.
(Goodreads Synopsis)

From the very first page to the very last, I really enjoyed reading this book. The story is captivating and the book is bursting with memorable characters. Agnes herself is a wonderful heroine and her interactions with those around her are believable and full of emotion.

I loved Vickers' simple prose that put the story and characters ahead of literary showing-off and I felt the movement between past and present chapters worked well and never felt confusing or forced. I also loved the way the cathedral itself became a kind of secondary character through Agnes involvement with it, first in the abstract then in real life.

This is a delightful book that really tugs at the heartstrings and I can highly recommend it to readers of literary fiction looking for a meaningful story with delightful characters.

1 comment:

  1. Great review - it makes me want to buy it. I remember I enjoyed Miss Garnett's Angel. Sally Vickers certainly knows how to put atmosphere into her novels.