The castle of of whisper by Carole Martinez

The Castle of Whispers

The castle of Whisper by Carole Martinez

French fiction

Original title – Du domaine des murmures

Translator – Howard Curtis

Source – review copy

Carole Martinez is a rising star of historic fiction in France this is her second novel .She is a middle school teacher ,she began writing during maternity leave nine years ago .This her second novel won the Goncourt Lyceens in 2011 ,previous winners are Phillippe  Claude and Andrei Makine .The prize sees twelve books read by 2000 students and they choose the one they like .

in the year 1187 , Esclarmonde ,damsel of the whisper ,resolves to live as an anchoress at Hautepierre , confined until her death to the sealed cell built for her by her father against the walls of the chapel that he erected on his lands in honour of Saint Agnes ,who was martyred at the age of thirteen for having accepted no other bridegroom than christ

How esclarmonde end up a damsel of whispers .

The castle of whisper is set in 12th century France ,a young women  ,the fifteen year old Esclarmonde is due to marry a rather unworthy Knight that has a wandering eye .She decides to turn her back on this marriage and join the Church much to her fathers dismay and she  becomes a mistress of Christ .She chooses to use her dowry for her entry to the church  instead of her marriage and builds a stone chapel where she entombed herself  in a cell ,the years pass and she can only contact the world via a small gap .She has become a link between the world of now and the dead ,her words tell what may happen ,the whispers of this place change the outside world .A world gripped in violence and the crusades are taking part .

My father had not yet put in an appearance outside my cell .In the autumn ,he had taken a second wife ,a young childless widow not much older than myself .whom I had often glimpsed since her arrival at the castle .her name was Douce ,and she smiled at me whenever she passed the maple .

What will the new stepmother bring into Esclarmonde life ?

I have struggle with historic fiction in the past ,I must have been the only person not too enjoy wolf hall ,so it was with nerves I decided to read this as it was another book set in the middle ages .But was surprised to find I liked it Martinez is a poetic writer ,she shows the transformation of the young girl to a woman in the walls of a church .I enjoyed the series on the TV in the  eighties Robin Hood ,which like this novel drift at times into the world of mysticism ,Esclarmonde and her castle of whispers are a French take on the same themes touched in the TV series ,people tended to believe in the other world ,worlds more than they do now .Gabriel Garcia Marquez is mentioned on the back cover  from a review ,I agree she has the same way of making the extraordinary seem less so the world isn’t so surreal as Marquez does in his books .The castle of whispers is about the power of men and women to battle the world in different ways one with love the other with violence .How faith can make people change and grow .

Do you have a favourite historic writer ?

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Max Cairnduff
    Jan 29, 2014 @ 13:52:47

    I don’t tend to read historical fiction, it’s not a genre that speaks to me. The only real exception is Charles Palliser, who writes Victorian fiction. He has a new novel out which I’ve just picked up and I’m quite excited about that, simply as I think he’s a serious talent who’s hardly paid any attention at all.

    There’s an anchoress as a key character in Notre-Dame de Paris, the first novel I ever reviewed on my blog (and historical fiction come to think of it, so I must read it occasionally).


  2. Caroline
    Jan 29, 2014 @ 17:02:05

    Like you I’m not too keen on historical fiction but this sounds quite good. I ahevn’t read her yet.


  3. Col
    Jan 29, 2014 @ 20:14:42

    I wouldn’t say I had a favourite historic author. I tend to dip in and out of them according to what I hear about or read reviews of. Unlike you I did enjoy both Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies enormously. Max’s comment reminds me that years ago I read Charles Palliser’s Victorian set novel ‘The Quincunx’ and absolutely loved it =- it is one of those books I own that I have read, and re-read and it’s now literally falling apart! Carole Martinez isn’t an author I’d heard of before I read your post but I will look out for her now!


  4. Claire 'Word by Word'
    Jan 30, 2014 @ 19:00:25

    I don’t read much historical fiction, but I have had some luck with recommendations and really enjoyed Sandra Gulland’s trilogy about the life of Josephine Bonaparte The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine Bonaparte.

    Another writer of historical fiction who I admire is Robin Oliveira, who wrote My Name is Mary Sutter and has a book out this year which I have just read based on the relationship between the American painter Mary Cassat and Edgar Degas.

    Thanks for the recommendation, always good to find another French writer to read!


  5. Trackback: That was the month that was Jan 2012 | Winstonsdad's Blog
  6. Trackback: That was the month that was Jan 2014 | Winstonsdad's Blog
  7. Brian Joseph
    Feb 05, 2014 @ 14:20:00

    I have trouble with some forms of historic fiction. Particularly when a book focuses too much on real people or events. I get the sense that the author is muddling history. When a book is set in a different tome from ours but does not involve those elements I usually have no problem with it.

    This one sounds really good and it makes me want to give Martinez a try.


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January 2014


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