The Betrayal: A Novel on John Calvin

The Betrayal: A Novel on John Calvin

by Douglas Bond


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The biographical/fictional private, deadly war between reformer John Calvin and Jean-Louis Mourin—a man in the thrall of the King of France and jealous intellectuals from the Sorbonne.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781596381254
Publisher: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing
Publication date: 06/28/2009
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Douglas Bond is the author of a number of books of historical fiction and biography. He and his wife have two daughters and four sons. Bond is an elder in the Presbyterian Church of America, a teacher, a conference speaker, and a leader of church history tours. Visit his website at

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The Betrayal: A Novel on John Calvin 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
JaneSteen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Where I got the book: e-ARC from NetGalleyThe story of John Calvin from the viewpoint of Jean-Louis, his servant and, initially, his enemy.When I started this book, I actually had to stop and go make sure this wasn't some kind of reprint of a public domain novel from an earlier era. The whole style of The Betrayal struck me as startlingly nineteenth-century, from the language used to the proportion of dialogue to narration. It even had the "validation" format of a Victorian novel, where the main story is in the form of a letter/confession found among a ruin...incidentally what's up with not wrapping up the story frame at the end? I was expecting to return to 1918 and was quite disappointed.So we see Calvin's life supposedly filtered through the guilty mind of Jean-Louis, but Bond has lifted so much dialogue directly from the writings of the true-life characters in the case that we frequently encounter the device of Jean-Louis standing speechless in the room while the other characters spout their lines, occasionally reacting like a bit player in a mammoth stage production. In the first third of the book, where Jean-Louis is plotting to betray Calvin, things are a little more interesting because J-L gets to have some thoughts of his own, but before long he is merely the transcriber of what's going on around him and has no apparent life of his own. That might be OK if the novel gave me a rounded picture of Calvin, but the guy's a plaster saint. Never, ever does he let slip a bit of real humanity. He invariably does the Right Thing, his marriage is perfect, he can recall entire books with 100% accuracy, etc. And I was really thrown by Jean-Louis, the uneducated peasant, being able to expound about the gothic architecture of the various churches they encounter...and by his use of the words "medieval" and "Middle Ages." A little research--and, frankly, common sense--tells me that those terms WOULD NOT have been used in the 1500s, and neither would anyone have remarked that there was electricity in the air. Anachronism ho!And as for the formatting...spelling and grammar just fine, but uncapitalized first names and beginnings of sentences made the text hard to read. Worse, when I spotted the consistency in the non-capitalizations I realized that this was probably a feeble attempt to prevent copies being made. Look, find and replace are SO easy to do, and this kind of thing does nothing to deter piracy but just annoys reviewers.I did, though, find the story of Calvin interesting, so two stars for that. But I can't see The Betrayal as a novel; it's a kind of thinly-skinned-over simple primer on Calvin, and as such has a point to it if you want to research Calvin's life (it has a timeline and bibliography at the end, too). But any kind of fictional prose narrative--the definition of a novel--was so slight as to be peripheral.