Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sepulchre - Book Review

By Kate Mosse
Orion HC 2007
Orion PB 2008

How many of you beleive that Tarot cards can tell your future? I don't.
Just like the Bible code (numbers) tarot cards can be be made to say anything you want them to say - IMO.

This novel is actually a very good story. I really enjoyed it. I must have right, or I would not have stayed up until 2 am this morning to finish it. Which gave me barely 4 hours of sleep. Anyway....

This book is very similar to The Historian but instead of looking for Draculas grave, this time the two time lines are looking for a sepulchre and a special set of Tarot cards.

The two time lines are 1891 and 2007. In 1891 we have 17 year old Leonie Vernier, a rather sheltered girl from Paris, who adores her older brother Anatole. In 2007 we have American historian Meredith Martin who is doing two things - researching and writing a biography of musician Claude Debussy, and trying to find her family roots because she was adopted.

So a book about genealogy and Languedoc history - My most FAVOURITE kind of book. Which is probably why I read this book right through. However I could not finish Kate's first bestseller novel - The Labyrinth. Yes it did involve history, but I just could not get into it. I'm not sure why. I might try and read it again, and see if I feel any differently.

Now I love France and the French culture. I have done so for as long as I can remember. And I even discovered why I love France. The Languedoc - because it has such a full, rich and interesting history.

In 1891 Anatole Vernier is devastated when his girlfrind (the modern word for an illicit liaison) died. The book opens with Leonie at her funeral. Then Anatole starts hinting that he needs to go into hiding. So he wangles an invitation fron an aunt in the Languedoc. Anatole and Leonie travel down to Carcassonne and beyond (to Rennes les Bains) to stay with the aunt.

The story continues with Leonie's eperiecnes in tarot as she read the uncle's libarry, learns more about Tarot and then begins to create for a special set of Tarot cards. Back in Paris, Anatole and KLenoine's mother is killed by the same person whom Anatole is running from. Eventually this person discovers that they are in Carcassonne, and trvels to that city to wait. One day Lenonie, Anatole and Isolde (the aunt) travel to Carcassonne,m and Leonie meets a charming gentleman named Victor Constant. she tells Victor where they are staying under the belif that he is a genuine suitor. On the day Victor turns up at the estate, he challenges Anatole to a duel. Anatole is killed and Victor disappeares into exile.

Isolde sinks into a severe depression and gives birth to Anatole's son Louis-Anatole Vernier. She shows no interest in the child so Leonie raises the boy. When Louis-Anatole is seven years old, Isolde committs suicide by drowning herself. Victor returns from exile (in Spain) and attempts once again to get what he was looking for. He had been looking for a special set of Tarot cards. The same cards Leonie had found and hidden and from which she had painted her own copies. Leonie disappears in the sepulchre (where spirits are raised) and her body is never found. A century later her ghost is haunting Meredith as she tries to find her family history.

Louis Anatole was raised by a close family friend. he enlisted in the french army, fought in world war one and survived. After the war he emigrated to USA. There he had a daughter Louise. Louise had a daughter Jennifer. And Jennifer had a daughter Meredith.

So the story comes full circle. Meredith has set out to write a biography of Claude Debussy (who was a close friend of the Verniers) and found her own family at the same time.

One of the things I really enjoyed in this book was a discussion the history of the Tarot. One of the major modern scholars in Tarot was Paul Foster Case. That name rang a bell, and then a few lines later I was reading that Paul Foster Case had founded a mystery school centred around Tarot - The Builders of the Adytum (BOTA). The really weird thing is that I used to belong to the BOTA. Back in New Zealand there is a chapter. While I loved the teachings I learned, I did not like the heavy reliance on the Tarot. As I said earlier - I believe that anyone can make the Tarot say anything they want it to say. So I quit the BOTA. I was there for barely 2 months.

I really really enjoyed this book. In some ways it is actually very similar to The Historian - both stories are about a young women searching for her past. The Sepulchre paperback has over 700 pages. And I stayed up late because I absolutely had to know what happened next, to both Leonie and Meredith. With my love for France and French history, I like to dream that maybe I have an ancestor who was from the Languedoc.


Marg said...

I read Labyrinth a while ago and quite liked it. For some reason, I haven't really been all that inspired to pick this one up, although I do keep on thinking about it!

Historia said...

I picked up Labyrinth fom the library on Friday so I'm going to try and read it again.