- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (1 Jan. 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0552770019
- ISBN-13: 978-0552770019
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 244,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Holy Fools Paperback – 1 Jan 2004
|New from||Used from|
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Holy Fools is Joanne Harris's most enjoyable novel yet, a beautifully detailed and sharply observed piece that emotionally moves the reader unlike anything she has tackled before. The immense success of Chocolat and Coastliners has made Harris one of the most cherished authors at work today, and each new book is something of an event.
Holy Fools is set in 17th century France, and the central character is Juliette, a former actress and rope dancer who has given up her travelling life to become a teaching nun at a remote abbey. Juliette has settled with her young daughter into an existence very different from that she knew, and she finds comfort from the advice of the wise and friendly abbess.
Harris brilliantly delineates both phases of her heroine's life: the colourful earlier era and the new demands of the semi-cloistered life. Things change radically when the abbess dies and her place is taken by an 11-year-old girl whose appetite for reform quickly destroys much that Juliet has come to love in her new life. What makes the book so refreshingly original is not just the unusual structure (the heroine's dual life alone is handled with radiant detail), but the surprising new trajectory the narrative takes after the death of the abbess, as everything Juliette was used to begins to go wrong.
We become involved in every minor crisis, however much we question that the religious life is the answer to her problems. Juliette is a brilliantly drawn character, and the plotting of this ambitious novel is both thoughtful and invigorating, while the basic theme--the ploys we all use to distract ourselves from the painful realities of existence--is handled with subtlety. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
"Truly sensational... This is a wonderful novel. It draws you in from the very first page" (Sunday Express)
"A weird and hugely enjoyable blend of Aldous Huxley's The Devils of Loudon and Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus" (New Statesman)
"With this bold, inventive book, Harris confirms her position as one of Britain's most popular novelists... Fans will be delighted by the way this novel complements her earlier works. At the same time, the author's experiments with structure and voice ensure this story is fresh and compelling" (Daily Mail)
"Hugely enjoyable... Both consoling and wise" (Amanda Craig New Statesman)
"With this bold, inventive book, Harris confirms her position as one of Britain's most popular novellists... Fresh and compelling" (Daily Mail)
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Top Customer Reviews
Like Coastliners which precedes it, Holy Fools is set on the French coast, except this time most of the action takes place at an abbey where the main protagonist, Juliette – now living as a nun, Soeur August – has taken refuge with her infant daughter several years before.
Set in the 1600s, it juxtaposes the sometimes extreme religious values held in France at that time, as reflected by the nuns at the abbey of Sainte Marie-de-la-Mer, and those of a rough and secular age, personified by the wandering players of the circus.
Over both of these worlds hovers the spectre of Guy LeMerle, nicknamed the Blackbird – an enigmatic risk-taker who has played a large part in Juliette’s colourful past.
Only he knows that she flew the high-wire as L’Ailée, the winged one, when they travelled the country as performers.
Will he arrive at the abbey and, if so, will it necessarily mean doom for Juliette and her little girl? This solid novel (more than 400 pages) takes the reader on a journey back and forth between Juliette’s two lives and it is not clear until near the end what is going to happen.
As in other Harris novels, religious dogma takes a battering and the free-spirited Juliette is in many ways reminiscent of Vianne Rocher from the gorgeous Chocolat.
Harris writes in a fluid and engaging way, drawing the reader on like a piper ahead of a minstrels’ caravan.
Definitely one for the book club.
In this book, she tells the story of a woman who tries to break away from her past by joining in a monastery in rural France, though her philosophy is much more gypsy than Christian.
This book is darker and more dramatic than her previous work, but once again, the characters are both compelling and well-drawn, and the plot is unpredictable and captivating.
Short chapters and a flowing storyline make it very easy to read - in fact, I didn't like having to take a break from it and ended up staying up very late one night to finish it.
All in all it's a good book, but it's not quite Chocolat.
Her writing has previously been very evocative but I think the strength of this novel was lost in that Harris never lived in the Middle Ages. The book is well researched but this is book is no 'Memoirs of a Geisha.' Furthermore her style of ending chapters with an unanswered question is something I am starting to find a little dull.
Having said all this if you want a light read which will probably leave you with a smile then this is a lot better than other writers' work. Joanne Harris is a fine descriptive author. If I had not read her work before then I would probably have enjoyed this a lot more. Her previous works have shown a great deal of passion over their subject matter and were written with a lot of love - for the foods, the places... It's much more difficult to write about something you can never have experienced. Having said that, other authors have done this really well. Maybe Harris should stick to the modern day?!
On the question of historical accuracy, I agree that it's very important, and a reference to pictures of the young king with the halo of sun behind him did make me do a double-take. But apart from that I couldn't find that Harris had mistaken her kings - references are made to his Medici mother and her removal of Sully, and of his marriage at around the right time, and the whole of the book takes place before Richlieu had entered politics. I can't comment further as that's the extent of my knowledge of French history of this time, but I thought Harris's evocation of time, place and atmosphere was superb.
As to the story itself - Yes, the nuns are a sorry lot with their tics and coughs - but I thought there was nothing of the theatrical freak show about them until the actor LeMerle started to work on them. Then, what were midly irritating mannerisms were exaggerated and intensified to serve his own purpose. I thought the development of Sister Antoine in particular was excellent, as was the extraordinary battle of wills between LeMerle and the child-Abbess Isabelle, so immature and at the same time so frighteningly strong. The fact that each of the nuns was scarred in their own way seemed natural - only such women would end up in an Abbey that had deteriorated so much - materially and religiously - and that had almost fallen off the Church's radar, so that it was more a shelter for the damaged than a House of God. LeMerle had to believe that they were weak enough and damaged enough for him to be able to do as he wanted with them.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Joanne Harris does it again. Great Story, if you're a fan of the author already you won't be disappointed. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Slinkay
This was my first experience of reading a Joanne Harris novel - and I think I picked the wrong one! Melodramatic and overblown, it tells the story of Juliette, a former actress and... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Kate Hopkins
This story didn't engage me at all, unlike her other books I couldn't wait to reach the end!Published 13 months ago by Trish
This was a rather different but very enjoyable book. Much of the action occurs in a sixteenth century abbey where Juliette & her daughter live. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Debra F
You really have to read this book twice to get the best out of this briliant bookPublished 18 months ago by peanuts
A group of nuns in seventeenth century France does not sound like a promising subject. I found it an odd book, and although one became involved in the heroine's story, I would not... Read morePublished 23 months ago by J. M. Passmore
enjoying the book but then i am a fan of Joanne Harris. If you like this period of history i hope you enjoy her book!Published on 3 April 2014 by AR