Migration — What I’m Reading Now

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Anyone who thinks sectarian violence began with Sunni vs. Shia must read In the Shadow of the Sun King by Golden Keyes Parson. She has mined the lives of her 17th century French ancestors to create the story of the passionate Madeleine Clavell, the beautiful, pampered daughter and wife of prominent Huguenots and friend in their youth of Louis XIV. Prosperity and calm give way to violence and suffering as dragoons arrive at her family’s country estate where they burn books, rape, and kill. Madeleine decides that she must make a personal entreaty to the king to protect her family.
The fate of Madeleine and of her husband Jean forms the bulk of the story, but the narrative becomes inspired in the person of Madeleine’s brother-in-law, a good Protestant who commits the most unchristian of crimes. His personal conflict makes Jean Clavell a memorable and sympathetic character. Less successful is the macro conflict of Protestant vs. Catholic because the source of the dispute – what real or perceived threat drove the Catholics to such carnage? – remains hidden until the end. Aside from this flaw and some odd metaphors (“silent eyes,” “labyrinth of contradictions”), this work is a triumph of storytelling.
A copy of this review is being posted on Amazon.com.

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