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Saturday, May 21, 2022

St. Ewolda Where Are You?

 If you like to read thrillers, then Charlie Lovett’s novel, The Lost Book of the Grail, will suit you just fine. It is a unique kind of thriller, though. It’s not violent. There’s a mystery to solve. There’s romance. There are places to go where you know no one should be going, but you will follow curiously if anxiously.

The setting is in England with references to P.G. Wodehouse. The reader follows the adventures of Arthur and Bethany. These two are an unlikely pair. Arthur is a medievalist who resists modernity. He is aghast when he is introduced to Bethany.
1. She’s a wise mouth American. (Arthur is a wise mouth Englishman.)
2. She’s a computer whiz who comes into Arthur’s library to digitize the manuscripts (some date from the sixth century).
3. She has faith. Arthur is an atheist.
4. Bethany’s father is an Evangelical preacher. Although a nonbeliever, Arthur loves the rhythm and poetry of the psalms and attends all the monk’s hours.
5. She’s young—20’s. He’s 20 years older.

The adventure begins when Bethany starts putting two plus two together and squares it with her computer skill, to help Arthur find lost manuscripts. There are pressures from rich people who want to buy the old manuscripts, superiors who need money to keep the library open, and those who need to keep the cathedral viable.

The setting and story remind me of Brother Cadfael’s mysteries. There’s history from medieval times to the reformation. The author has his character explain how to make vellum and how the scribes made their ink and art work. Some of the manuscripts are written in Latin and some in Saxon and of course there’s a code that hints of where the Holy Grail is hidden.

The town, college, abbey, cathedral, and the ever important, St. Ewolda, are all fictitious. But they remind the reader of real places, saints, and characters. All in all, it’s fun.

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