Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review: The Book of Love by Kathleen McGowan

The Book of Love (Book 2, The Magdalene Line Series)
by Kathleen McGowan
2009 Touchstone
ISBN-13: 978-0-7432-9997-8
ISBN-10: 0-7432-9997-3
Hardcover Edition; 516 Pages
Genre:  Religious Fiction
Source: Personal Copy

4.5 / 5 Stars

Maureen Paschal thought she might rest and work on her book after discovering the gospel written by Mary Magdalene that revealed Mary and Jesus were married.  The truth of their story rocked the world and made Maureen a target of those who did not like her discovery and a heroine to those who did.

Then Maureen receives a strange package containing what looks like an ancient letter written in Latin and signed with a symbol.  She discovers that its author is an extraordinary woman whom history has overlooked - or covered up - Countess Matilda of Tuscany, and in the letter Matilda demands the return of her "most precious books and documents." Maureen soon finds herself in a race across Italy and France, where hidden dangers await here and her lover, Berenger, as they begin to realize that they are on the trail of another explosive discovery: the Book of Love, the Gospel written in Jesus' own hand.

As Maureen learns more about Matilta, an eleventh-century warrior countess who was secretly married to a pope, she begins to see the eerie connections between herself and Matilda, connections she must trace to their source if she is to stop the wrong people from finding the Book of Love and hiding it forever.

My Thoughts
I absolute adored the first book in this series, The Expected One, and the sequel was almost as good.  I have been listening to the Gospels all of my life and have always believed that Mary Magdalene was something more than what was taught in church and in school.  What is revealed in these books may offend some people of the faith, but I really adored these novels and the concepts that were in them and the possibilities of other truths that were discussed. 

One of the things I have always loved about novels like this is learning about historical figures I was not at all familiar with, like Matilda of Tuscany.  Learning about Matilda sent me to the computer countless times to look up her information as I was mightily intrigued by a warrior countess who accomplished so much in a time period when women were pretty much being regulated to the background.  Unfortunately, little information is to be found on this amazing woman and I am looking forward to reading Michele K. Spike's book, Tuscan Countess, in order to learn more about her.  That she could accomplish what she did, and keep a small empire together, despite the odds against her, surely should be remembered.  She was headstrong, brilliant, and considered one of the first patron of the arts in the world.  And the characters/people around her I felt connected to and cared for and wanted to know better, especially Conn, for whom I felt a special affinity.

Matilda's story is central to this novel and because of this, Maureen and Berenger play a secondary role in this novel in comparison to the first novel.  I was somewhat disappointed in this, but as I finished the novel, I understood the reasoning behind it, which I can't really divulge here or it will spoil some things for the reader.  Suffice it to say, I am expecting more things to be revealed in The Poet Prince, the next novel in this series.

As a history lover, I love how Ms. McGowan ties up many historical events and intricacies into a brilliant story.  At first, you are not sure how everything fits in together, but at the story unfolds, things slowly come together and you realize how everything fits in together brilliantly.   Ms. McGowan rarely leaves you wondering, now how did that end up as most of my questions were answered and those that weren't were subtly told, through the characters, that they would be answered through the next book.  And how I love the historical things that I learned.  From Rome, to Tuscany, to Spain, to Chartres Cathedral (where I have visited so I can actually pictures everything in my mind) as well as Orval (another place I have been), her descriptions of the places in the present and in the past are wonderful and you feel like you are right there.

I really enjoyed this novel, the characters, the plot, pretty much everything about it.  I am looking forward to reading The Poet Prince, the next novel in this wonderful series.


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