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Posted August 14, 2012
Brother Cadfael meets Agatha Christie
I’ve just been reading excerpts from Julian of Norwich’s writing. How enormously satisfying to open a novel that begins with a reminder of the woman (and daughter of a woman) behind the words! Meanwhile in the present day, there's a young American Felicity, rebellious church reject now studying her new-found faith in England and considering becoming a nun; a handsome Anglican priest with a wonderful way of describing and explaining church history, an obvious passion for his calling and a certain interest in said woman; the mysticism and beauty of ancient icons; the longing for church unity; and more… It all combines into a mystery adventure with danger, beauty and drama, gorgeously evocative in its descriptions of English sacred places, woven with haunting memories of the past, and enlivened with great side-characters and wonderful dialog
A visit from Felicity’s estranged mother prompts thoughts of what lies behind love and loyalty. Secrets of the past begin to heal memories of the present. And the future beckons. Will Father Anthony and Felicity find the thief before anyone else is murdered? Will Felicity manage to choose between love of God and that elusively gentle romance, or are both possible? And what has Julian of Norwich got to do with it?
A pleasing novel that combines English and American characters, genuine faith, well-researched history and wonderfully evocative locations with murder and mayhem, this one’s got me hooked. Now I need to find, and find time to read book one, and three, and... a perfect read for any fan of Brother Cadfael and Agatha Christie.
Disclosure: I won a free copy of this novel from the author. Lucky me!!! Now I’m hooked.
Posted May 10, 2012
A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH by Donna Fletcher Crow is a fast paced historical mystery. This is book 2 in "The Monastery Murders",but can be read as a stand alone. See,"A Very Private Grave". Spend a year or two in England's countryside as you travel with Felicity and Antony into the a world of mystery,murder,church history,a missing icon,the Knights of Hospitalier,and with a bit of romance. Written with vivid descriptions,full of England's church history,and rich characters. Ms. Crow weaves medieval history with modern murder and mystery.A must read for anyone interested in history,christianity,mystery,and a bit of romance. Received for an honest review. Details can be found at the author's website,Pump Up Your Books, Monarch Books,and My Book Addiction and More.
HEAT:Sweet: No sex or scenes of physical intimacy except some kissing. No graphic violence or profanity.
REVIEWED BY: AprilR, My Book Addiction and More
Posted April 27, 2012
A Reader's Opinion: Let me begin by saying that I found this book both, interesting and enjoyable - simply put, I liked it. Let me explain. I know nothing of Catholicism, very little of the Church of England, or to be honest, a majority of the religious references and history mentioned in this book. Before reading, I was aware that I would run into a lot of unfamiliar information and I believe that is what allowed me to enjoy the book as much as I did. There were times when I felt there was too much delving into the religious aspect, but I read those sections more like I was in a university class, so I found it interesting.
Antony was by far my favorite character. He's kind, chivalrous and unassuming, but certainly not boring. His humble demeanor was balanced out with noticeable charm and I found myself smiling each and every time he winked or grinned at Felicity. Our heroine, Felicity was an enigma in the first third of the book. I couldn't decide if I liked her or was just putting up with her. As the story progressed, Felicity proved to be a worthy heroine - a modern personality warring with the search for some higher purpose. She found her footing halfway through and began to show her strength and determination. Her personality seemed to shine through more as the story progressed and I became immersed in both the intellectual and romantic relationship between her and Antony.
Then there's the murder and mystery - well plotted, well developed and not entirely predictable. I'll admit that one of the culprits was a complete surprise to me. I had gone along thinking I knew everyone who did it and where I figured out most, I appreciated that the author could twist enough to keep me on my mental toes.
The amazing amount of research the author did for this book is apparent. In fact there were passages when I felt I was being taught - for some readers that may be a bother, so read the book knowing what you're getting into. If I hadn't known, I may not have enjoyed it as much. As it was, I finished the book in a few days because it held my attention and I was interested in the outcome. This is the second book of the Monastery Series and not having read the first yet, I can't say how one flows into the next, but I would recommend this book to any intellectual reader who enjoys a good whodunit and learning something in the process.
FTC Disclaimer: In accordance with FTC guidelines for bloggers and endorsements, I would like to clarify that the books reviewed on An Avid Reader's Haven are provided by the publisher/author free of charge. I am neither compensated for my reviews nor are my opinions influenced in any way by the avenues in which I obtain my materials.
Posted March 22, 2012
A Darkly Hidden Truth (The Monastery Murders) [Paperback] by Donna Fletcher Crow
“A Darkly Hidden Truth,” the second of Donna Fletcher Crow’s “Monastery Murders” series, follows the progress of young headstrong Felicity, our heroine. An American student in Britain, she has decided she wants to become (right now!) a nun – never considering the consequences of this whim: for herself or for those who love her.
This is a book exploring passions: for life, for art, for family, for mammon, for tradition, for the sacramental and for the imperfectly human, set in the present and the past, in a place where these realms intermix and meld. It’s a tale of Icons, of the Knights Hospitalier (Templars), of kings, villains and saints, of ancient and contemporary plots and schemes, woven into an easily accessible tapestry where history is fascinating and relevant, featuring a likable flawed heroine and the empathetic man (Father Anthony) who is falling in love with her.
Buy it for the setting and the history; it will take you on a pilgrimage to places you never knew you wanted to go, and make you want to visit them “for real.” The delightful map, the Anglican glossary and the time line at the beginning of the book are welcome. They make the “journey” come alive and should be especially useful for those unfamiliar with the Anglican (Episcopal, in the US) Church, its customs and regalia.
But buy it for the story. For the well-drawn characters who evolve as the plot unfurls. This is a gentle tale, despite the murders. Charmingly chaste. On the surface, at least. What lies below that layer, I’m not about to tell.
FTC Guidelines disclosure, I must state that I was given a copy of the book, "A Darkly Hidden Truth: The Monastery Murders" from the publisher in exchange for my review. My opinions are expressly my own, and are in no way influenced positively or negatively, because of receiving this book in exchange for the review.
Posted February 19, 2012
My wife, Ann, read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Here, for the purposes of this review, I interview her about A Darkly Hidden Truth:
Who were your favorite characters in this story?
Antony and Felicity, most definitely. Oh, and Felicity’s mother, Cynthia too. I liked her.
Part of my interest in these two was the relationship they had with each other. They’re in a relationship that is uncertain from the beginning. In fact, as the book begins, they don’t even really know IF they’re in a relationship. The interplay between the two, the questions they ask of themselves and the circumstances they are thrown into make you follow this all the way through to the end of the book. And even then, you’re left hanging about where this couple might end up.
Did you find the plot engaging? How so?
Yes, very much. There’s so much history going on here in this story, it’s no wonder this mystery was so difficult to solve. It almost seemed like Antony and Felicity were caught up in the flow of the historical, trying to gleans clues. I also got caught up in how Felicity, who is trying to find her path in life––whether to become a nun or not––ends up at all these spiritual centers and the plot just wraps itself around her.
Were there characters you didn’t enjoy? Why?
Oh, I didn’t like Cyril, almost from the beginning. Something about him made me feel creepy. And when one of the other key characters in the story gets caught in his web of deceit, I really wanted to jump in and rescue that person.
What did you think of the relationship between Antony and Felicity?
I think until Felicity could even figure out and explore the options for her own life, she really didn’t know what the relationship could be. Sometimes you need to come to a crisis in your life to figure these things out. A crisis happens to her, via Antony, that brings this into very stark focus.
The relationship between Felicity and her mother, Cynthia, is not in the best of shape. As a mother, how did this affect you?
I don’t think Cynthia backed down from the hard questions or accusations her own daughter would ask or make. Cynthia was willing to take the heat and explain herself. She even expresses a measure of regret at how things had been. Cynthia is clearly a very strong woman of clear convictions; when she sets her mind to something, she’s going to do it. And, at times, Felicity realizes she has misjudged her mother regarding some things and there is movement toward forgiveness and reconciliation in the story line.
Did you find yourself wishing you’d read the first book in the series in order to stay up with the plot here?
No, I didn’t need to have read the first one. I know there are connections, but I could read this as a stand alone novel. You may not know much about a previous murder that brought these two together in this book, but that doesn’t affect your reading here.
Would you read the next book in the series?
Oh yes. I would like to read that one too because I want to know what happens next in the relationship between Antony and Felicity. There are far too many open questions in A Darkly Hidden Truth for me to know where it will go next.
Posted February 19, 2012
Even more than the mystery in the story, I enjoyed the history lesson I received while reading the book.
I love reading historical amateur sleuth books like the Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters or the Hawkenlye mystery series by Alys Clare. I don't understand all of the religious information, but I can enjoy the flow of it and the life occurring as the story rolls along.
It was the same with A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH. It read just like a historical mystery, but it is set in modern times.
Since I was not raised with organized religion, I didn't get all of the religious ceremonial bits, but it didn't keep me from enjoying the mystery. It only enhanced the story, especially as Father Antony is a teacher and enjoyed relating bits of history to Felicity.
I look forward to reading more of this series and I am on the lookout for the book before this one, A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE.
Five English beans......
Posted January 15, 2012
This was my first Donna Fletcher Crow read. It will not be my last. Compelling characters and a chase through England that made me want to visit every historical site mentioned. I couldn't put it down.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.