The Cloister by James Carroll

The Cloister

From National Book Award-winning writer James Carroll comes a novel of the timeless love story of Peter Abelard and Heloise, and its impact on a modern priest and a Holocaust survivor seeking sanctuary in Manhattan.Father Michael Kavanagh is shocked to see a friend from his seminary days named Runner Malloy at the altar of his humble Inwood community parish. Wondering about their past, he wanders into the medieval haven of The Cloisters, and begi...

Details The Cloister

TitleThe Cloister
Release DateMar 6th, 2018
PublisherNan A. Talese
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Religion

Reviews The Cloister

  • Beth Cato
    I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley.A stunning book, beautifully written. Carroll brings to life the story of Abelard and Heloise, but not to focus on the tragic nature of their romance, which resulted in Abelard's brutal castration. No, he depicts the love that arises when two brilliant people come together, each feeding the other's brilliance. The result of that love echoes through the centuries to change the lives of two peop...
  • Karen
    The Cloister - James Carroll, Mar 6, 4.56, 384 pagesA well-researched piece of historical fiction written by former priest James Carroll. It is based on historically significant people, fascinating subjects who I’d never before heard of. It is a multi-layered read that spans hundreds of years and begins with philisopher/nun Holoise d’Argenteuil arriving at the Cloister garden to meet the Abbot where he will lead her to the the body of her muc...
  • CoffeeandInk
    The Cloisters is a novel of ideas that made me feel as breathless and on edge as I do when reading a thriller. With masterful writing and pacing, the author creates two worlds for the characters to inhabit—1140s Paris and the scholastic sphere of the brilliant Peter Abelard and Heloise, and their inevitable, and separate, retreat from the world.How this all fits into Nazi occupied Paris, concentration camps, and on to post WWII New York City is...
  • Sharon
    Carroll has written three story threads in three different time periods. I was ignorant of Peter Abelard and Héloïse but I will never forget them and what they stood for against unbelievable odds. I knew that the Catholic Church had been complicit in the Holocaust but oblivious to the centuries old teaching that as “killers of Christ” they were worthy of scorn, to be wantonly killed - Jews! God’s chosen people!! The second thread takes pl...
  • Annie
    Originally published on my blog: Nonstop ReaderA new narrative historical fiction from James Carroll and Doubleday, The Cloister uses parallel storylines from the 12th and 20th centuries to illuminate and emphasize the timelessness of faith, love, fidelity, understanding and salvation. I cannot emphasize enough how well written and lyrical this book is. It's definitely one of the more masterfully written books I've read this year. The prose is be...
  • Denice Barker
    I finished this book a couple of weeks ago and can’t get it out of my mind. After thinking about it for a couple of weeks I don’t know how to tell you it’s worth every minute of your time and do that telling justice. Bear with me and then go buy the book.I had, somewhere in my life, heard the names Heloise and Abelard. I knew theirs was a love story but that’s I all. I didn’t know their time, their story or their purpose. I do now.The m...
  • Nancy
    Religion, Philosophy and RomanceAfter an unsettling meeting with an old friend from seminary, Father Kavanagh wanders through Central Park. To escape the rain, he takes shelter in The Cloisters. He’s hoping to be alone, but Rachael Vedette, a museum guide, wanders into his sanctuary. Their unexpected conversation changes their lives. Rachael is a survivor of the Holocaust in France. Her father, a Medieval scholar, studied Abelard in the hope of...
  • Trin
    A Catholic grapples with "the Jewish question" for 360 pages.OY VEY.Far be it for me to speak for the entirety of the Jewish people, but: as long as you cool it with the murder and the genocide, we don't really give a shit what you think about us. We definitely don't need lengthy, self-back-patting apologia on our behalf. Thanks.I'm am very relieved to be done with this and to now get to read something that, whatever the author's intention, doesn...
  • Kathleen Gray
    I have not read Carroll for a long time but this came along as a Netgalley ARC and well, I was happy to enter his world again. This time he explores the tale of Heloise and Abelard. Father Michael Kavanaugh and Rachel Vedette meet by chance at the Cloisters. Rachel's story, as a survivor of the Holocaust, is beautifully rendered. This well written novel explores a variety of themes- paralleling 12th century France and the 20th century. It's not a...
  • Ally
    The initial subject of the book intrigued me, but after getting 1/3 of the way in, I was not enjoying the read. I went to Catholic school for 10 years and I was still unsure about a lot of the terms that were used in the story, and I felt that the storylines were not grabbing my attention.Life is too short to read books that you’re not into, so I stopped reading it because I didn’t want to have to power through a casual read.
  • Wytzia Raspe
    "Abelard and Héloïse? Was he not that guy who got castrated?" That was the first thing that came to mind. And that they had joined a monastery afterwards summed up all I knew.The novel is in fact three stories that intertwine:- The story of Abelard and Héloïse in 12th century France;- The story of Jewish Rachel and her father the professor in and around Paris during the Second World War;- The story of the Father Mike, a priest in New York, of...
  • Anya Leonard
    In the grand tradition of Kate Mosse, this book juxtaposes the story of Peter Abelard and Heloise with a more contemporary story of Father Kavanagh and Rachel. We meet both of our sets of main characters early on in the story and learn and grow with them through their trials and tribulations. Carroll is careful to paint us a very vivid picture of 12th century France to bring the romantic characters of Abelard and Heloise to life. Admittedly, this...
  • Annarella
    This is a wonderful book and I was hooked since the first pages. I coudn't believe I never read anything by this writer as he is so incredibly good.I am still reading it, savouring every page and trying to make it last as long as possible.Strongly recommended.
  • Lynn
    Peter Abelard 's reputation down through the centuries had "risen and fallen: initially a heretic, then a scholastic philosopher, then an embryonic Protestant, then a hero of the Enlightenment, then an admired humanist of the Romantic era". He became abbot of Saint-Gildas de Rhuys. Together with Heloise, his student, he was the inventor of modern love. They were the Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, Lancelot and Guinevere. Abelard is all but ...
  • Amy Gennaro
    I was given an advance copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for my unbiased review.WoW! An excellent book that tells the epic love story of Heloise and Abelard and the importance and context of Paul Abelard's teachings. The story moves between 12th century time of these lovers then tells the story of a father and daughter living in the Polish ghetto during World War II, and finally in a small Irish Catholic parish in New York City in the 19...
  • Ioana
    Threading three different stories, the novel presents the story of people who are unable to present their cases clearly, or if they do, they are met with judgment and misunderstanding. The story of World War Two Holocaust when millions of Jews were killed is well known. A victim of this injustice was Rachel Vedette, a French Jew, and her father, a scholar of the Torah. Presenting her story is done as a result of her discussions with Father Michae...
  • Jo Dervan
    Father Michael Kavanagh stepped into the Cloisters, a medieval museum composed of parts of former cloisters brought from Europe by John D. Rockefeller.Jr. The museum was near his blue collar Catholic parish in upper New York City. However the priest had never been inside the museum. While there, he met Rachel Vedette, a Jewish docent who has survived the Holocaust in her native France. The two struck up an uneasy friendship and cemented it with t...
  • Nancy
    The Cloister is that rare contemporary novel that demands intellectual and emotional engagement from the reader. Yes, it is the historical love story of Abelard and Heloise, and it can of course be read for that alone. But, it is more importantly a quest for understanding; an enquiry in to crimes in the name of religion; a search for redemption; and an examination of how we choose to live our live.Heavy stuff, indeed.James Carroll presents these ...
  • Ilona
    The Cloister by James Carroll tells the story of the forbidden love of Peter Abelard and Héloïse in 12th century Paris. Two brilliant minds teaching lessons that placed the Catholic church in a new perspective. It also tells the stories of Rachel Vedette, a French scholar and Holocaust survivor studying Abelard’s work, and Father Kavanagh, a catholic priest in New York in 1950, and the influence that Abelard’s and Héloïse’s legacy has o...
  • Aliceconlon
    I am finding it hard to write a review of The Cloister, a book rich in retelling the love story of Abelard and Heloise, the writings of Abelard on personal conscience and the place of Jews in Christian history, the atrocities towards Jews in Germany in WWII, and the Catholic Church's homophobia and cover ups to protect priests and the Church itself in the 1940s and 50s. The richness of detail of life in clerical, medieval France contasts with the...
  • Rachel
    Fascinating and compelling, this extremely complex "split-screen" novel tells the timeless love story of the discredited medieval French religious scholar Peter Abelard and his intellectual paramour Héloïse (which I knew absolutely nothing about), and its impact on a priest and a Holocaust survivor in post-World War II Manhattan. The audio, narrated by the author, was excellent but I'm going to need to re-read it in print in order to grasp more...
  • Liz Gray
    Carroll's latest novel is set in the 1950s and examines crises of conscience in the lives of four people, two contemporary and two historical. The contemporary characters are a Catholic priest and French Holocaust survivor who meet by accident in New York's Cloisters Museum, and the historical characters are Abelard and Heloise. Carroll weaves these seemingly-disparate stories together to create a rich, double-sided tapestry: post-WW II America o...
  • Jack Laschenski
    Carroll, the author of Constantine's Sword, continues his task of proving over and over again that the root and branch cause of all the world's anti-semitism is the evil teaching of the Catholic church.For 2000 years that church has been the cause of the murders of millions (billions) of jewish people.And it goes on today (See Austria and France).This time in a novel with curiously intertwined stories of priest, a holocaust survivor, and Abelard ...
  • Patricia
    In this novel two strands of history - the story of Heloise and Abelard from the Middle ages and the story of Father Kavanaugh, a priest in early post war New York - are woven together in a thought provoking and compelling manner. One setting is at The Cloister in NYC, a place I have visited, which always adds to my enjoyment of a book. A good read!
  • Marilyn
    My first book by James Carroll--I LOVED it. The story of Heloise and Peter Abelard is classic but intertwined with the other plot lines in this book gave me an insight I did not have by just reading their love letters.
  • Joanne Tallefson
    How philosophy can misinterpret realityA very thoughtful comparison of how the early Christian theology and persecution of Muslims and Jews was comparable to Nazi persecution of the Jews and current anti Semitism --as well as a touching love story.
  • Julie Barnard
    I really liked the first half of this book, and especially I liked the parts about Abelard and Heloise. But as it went on it got a little tedious. So not my favorite book of the year, but probably still worth reading.
  • Anne
    Breathtakingly tedious - glad to return it to the library.
  • Pam
    I enjoyed this book tremendously. I found it very thought provoking and faith-affirming. I may buy this book just so I can reread some parts.. particularly the Christmas homily.
  • Chanie
    Another novel where I loved the concept but found the writing tedious.