The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you haven't had the pleasure of reading Sally Vickers, it's hard to categorize her books for you. The Cleaner of Chartres fits in with her other books, as an exploration of faith, convention, and their opposites. Agnes, the cleaner in question, has had a very hard life up until she makes her way to Chartres, being a foundling raised by nuns, a victim of rape who had her child taken from her, a stint in mental institutions.... Quite a lot of tragedy heaped upon one person. Yet she has had some luck in life as well. After twenty years in Chartres and a gentle life as a cleaning lady for the cathedral and some of its townspeople, Agnes' sheltered life is threatened by suspicion and a visitation from her unhappy past. Will the pettiness of sin and jealousy win out, or will innocence and integrity prevail? Will Agnes ever find the love she so deserves? Like the renovation of the cathedral in progress, and the singular path of the labyrinth within, Vickers builds a story of interesting angles and vivid colors worthy of the great cathedral's vibrant windows and architecture, and the faith of the everyday people who manufactured its magnificence.
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