Part of my reading challenge this year required that I read a book my mom loves. I liked this category, as it took the book selection completely out of my hands. I waited a long time for my mom to make her choice, and when she finally did, she handed me a 1,000 page tome. Oy. It’d been a while since I read such a lengthy novel. But my mom has never steered me wrong with book suggestions so I knew it’d be worth giving a try!
I wasn’t disappointed. The book is The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, and it’s got a bit of everything. There’s revenge, murder, love, family issues, witchcraft, war, sex, religion, history, tragedy and, above all, architecture. I didn’t know that the Pillars mentioned in the title referred to literal pillars. I suppose the artwork on the cover should have given me a clue…
The architecture talk is indeed fascinating in some parts, particularly when it speaks to the differing styles between countries and how certain aspects were brought over to England, but it does get monotonous in some spots. At a certain point I really stopped caring about how on earth they were going to support the new roof of the cathedral when the main villain of the novel just got away with yet more raping and pillaging with absolutely zero consequences.
Then again, a good villain is a hallmark of a great story and this one has a few villains to choose from. The fact that injustice runs rampant throughout the novel makes the comeuppance near the end all the sweeter. And this one was pretty damn sweet.
Not only did I appreciate the villains, I really enjoyed all of the main characters and the flow between them as the narrative shifts seamlessly between points of view. I also appreciated the historical tie-in at the end, making this story seem like it really could have been part of history and not just a fictional embellishment.
Overall, I’m thankful that my mom has such good taste in books, and I’d highly recommend this novel to anyone who has the stamina for almost 1,000 pages. And now when I polish off my next 300-400 page novel it’ll feel like a breeze!