Library Ed. ISIS Audio Books 2002
CS ISBN $99.95 Fourteen cassettes
CD ISBN $109.95 Sixteen CDs
Pears writes gripping historical novels about the arts. This one, set in Provence, concerns three heroes of three epochs in crisis. Julien is an antiquarian serving the Vichy government as a cultural censor during the German occupation. Pressured into burning books, he finds comfort in an inspiration from Olivier, an obscure poet who lived during the ravages of the Black Death. Olivier, in turn, is fascinated by the Gallic patrician and Christian bishop Manlius, a protector and disciple of St. Sophia during the fifth-century fall of the Roman Empire. At great danger to himself, each strives to preserve civilization and decency in his region against rising tides of barbarism and chaos. Inspiring interlocked stories are told with simple grace. Nick Rawlinson serves them up with uncommon intelligence, sensitivity, and technique. He misses not one nuance and convincingly puts flesh and blood on the vividly drawn characters. Moreover, he makes the intellectual minutiae as fascinating as the life and death issues and shows how the one cannot be separated from the other. The American listener may have to acclimate to French characters speaking in British accents, but the effort is more than worth it. Y.R. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine [Published: FEB/ MAR 04]
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