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La pierre de vie (1960)

par Edith Pargeter

Séries: The Heaven Tree (1)

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278778,265 (4.01)41
England in the reign of King John - a time of beauty and squalor, of swift treachery and unswerving loyalty. Against this violent, exciting background the story of Harry Talvace, master mason, unfolds. Harry and his foster-brother Adam tasted injustice young and together fled to Paris, where Harry's genius for carving drew him into friendship with the enigmatic Ralf Isambard, Lord of Parfois, and the incomparably beautiful Madonna Benedetta, a Venetian courtesan. In their company he returned to his native Shropshire to build a church for Isambard beside Parfois castle. Soaring heavenwards, the tree of stone became an arrow of light; but as it flowered darkening shadows presaged jealousy, pitiless revenge - and death.… (plus d'informations)
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The Heaven Tree is set along the England-Wales border during the reign of Bad King John. Harry Talvace, son of a gentleman, runs away to Paris with his foster-brother, Adam, to take up work as a mason. To say Harry’s behaviour is unusual for the period is to put the case mildly. He is also highly attuned to the distinction between the law and justice, and is not shy about letting people know when he thinks that distinction ought to be made. The bulk of the story tells of Harry’s building a cathedral for another lord, Ralf Isambard, and the clash of personalities between forward-thinking Harry and more-of-his-time Isambard.

Overall, I liked this story. It’s set during a period of English and Welsh history that I’m only just beginning to explore, so it had my interest for that reason. It took me a little bit to get into, because I’m not much of an architectural buff and skimmed over the descriptions of the cathedral, and also I was second-guessing some of the historical accuracy (“people didn’t have clocks in the 1200s, did they? Would they measure time in hours?”). But to be fair, this book was first published in 1960—we’ve learned a lot since then!

Anyone wanting to compare this book with a certain other book about building a cathedral in mediaeval England will note that (a) this book was published first (b) it is a quarter of the length (c) it does not contain violent sex or rape (although there *is* one scene of objectification that takes place toward the end of the book).

Despite the initial slower-than-expected start, I ended up becoming hugely invested in the story and cried in public at the end. So I would recommend this book. ( )
  rabbitprincess | May 26, 2018 |
Edith Pargeter is the real name of the person who also writes as Ellis Peters, author of the Brother Cadfael mysteries. In this historical series she explores England in the time of King John. Harry Talvace is a master builder who is hired to build a church in Shropshire. His lord, consumed by jealousy, has him put to death. ( )
  gypsysmom | May 10, 2018 |
Turns out I had read this many years ago, but enjoyed again in re-reading. ( )
  Siubhan | Feb 28, 2018 |
If you enjoyed The Pillars of the Earth or World Without end you are bound to enjoy this book. It is set in the time of King John and tells of a young Mason Harry Talvace, who has magic in his fingertips. He comes from a well to do family and hasa higly tuned sense of fairness and justice, he is brought up with his fathers veillans son Adam, they are like brothers and when an accident with a deer occurs in the forest, which could mean Adam losing his hand in punishment, the boys flea to safety. They go to France where they are apprenticed to a master mason. Before coming back to England to build a magnificent church for his lord Isambard, this sense of justice will eventually lead to anger resentment and death.
The story is very very good, Edith Pargeter is a fantastic writer, I spent half the book chewing my fingers in anticipation of what was going to happen. The writing style is fairly old fashioned but suits the book perfectly and her sense of anticipation and intrigue is amazing. I loved this book and am looking forward the reading the next 2 in the trilogy. ( )
  Glorybe1 | Apr 15, 2012 |
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England in the reign of King John - a time of beauty and squalor, of swift treachery and unswerving loyalty. Against this violent, exciting background the story of Harry Talvace, master mason, unfolds. Harry and his foster-brother Adam tasted injustice young and together fled to Paris, where Harry's genius for carving drew him into friendship with the enigmatic Ralf Isambard, Lord of Parfois, and the incomparably beautiful Madonna Benedetta, a Venetian courtesan. In their company he returned to his native Shropshire to build a church for Isambard beside Parfois castle. Soaring heavenwards, the tree of stone became an arrow of light; but as it flowered darkening shadows presaged jealousy, pitiless revenge - and death.

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