This review is going to be short and sweet, and to the point. My latest read was The Priest’s Madonna, by Amy Hassinger. This is the story of a young woman in 1890s France, who falls in love with the priest in her town. While repairing the church, they find what appears to be a Cathar-era treasure map. Suddenly, the priest is flush with cash and begins a massive building project. There’s also a really unnecessary side-story about Mary Magdalene and her time with Jesus; basically, this book is trying to be The Da Vinci Code, but classy.
It all sounds very sexy when you put it that way, and that sex-appeal is what the write-up and recommendations on the back of the book implies, but the reality is far less. This is an innocuous book; there’s nothing that really captures the reader’s imagination – while the potential in the plot sounds great, the reality is ho-hum. I don’t know if Hassinger felt stymied by the historical resources she had, or if she just lacked the imagination to fill in the gaps those resources surly left, but this book is not what the book-jacket implies it will be, and that’s a shame because according to the write-up, it could have been great.
So, final verdict? Skip it. It’s not worth the time. Even if you remove yourself from what you were expecting (which is really how you should approach all books), it’s still not that interesting of a read. There are moments in the book where, with a bit extra imagination, it could have been great, but Hassinger didn’t exploit them. Because of that, I can’t recommend this book, not even for those with an interest in the time period, or Cathar history.