Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Sanctuary is Simply Superb!!
Before I had a chance to see this historical novel, I read several fine reviews about it, each one making me more anxious to read Molly Noble Bull’s latest work. Happily, I was not disappointed when the book was finally in my hands.
Sanctuary is set in France and England in 1740, a time when Jews and non-Catholics in general were persecuted. One particular group, known as Huguenots, were once protected but were now open to persecution of all kinds. Right from the beginning of the first chapter, Ms. Bull starts things off with a bang and a shock. Rachel, a young Jewess whose family is trying to blend in to the French society as much as possible, is away from home when her beloved Louis Dupre, a Huguenot, stops by her home to talk to her parents about marriage. Suddenly a mass of about thirty soldiers attack the household, burning everything and killing Louis and Rachel’s parents. Louis’ brother Pierre is not far away; he sees what is happening, but being unarmed and alone, is helpless to intervene. From this point on he knows he must do what he can to protect his mother, little brother, and Rachel. As word of the tragedy spreads, the Huguenots find they must flee immediately. Rachel is in such shock that Pierre can hardly get her to move. They must run to find Sanctuary, first in a place called Sanctuary, then in a village, and finally in England and Scotland. Along the way they find wonderful people who help them and cruel, evil people who hate them. They are married for convenience, for Rachel’s protection as they escape and travel by ship. In fact, Pierre has always loved her even before she met his brother, but stepped out of the way. Now he is determined to save her out of respect for his brother, but even more because of his love for her. Ever the Christian gentleman, though, he never reveals his feelings, wishing that some day she would see him as she had seen Louis. Their biggest obstacle as they look for a place of peace is Captain Jean Vallae, the leader of the very band of soldiers who killed their loved ones. His hatred for Jews and Huguenots drives him on a rampage that will not stop. Once he has seen Rachel, he is obsessed with a desire to have her and a hatred for her whole family. He relentlessly pursues them, each obstacle to his desires serving to enrage him further. Only through the intervention of God and His people are Rachel and Pierre able to continue their harrowing journey.
One point I think I need to add: this is not a Catholic-bashing book. In fact, there are several members of the French Catholic Church who help the couple as they escape. These good people place themselves at risk in fact. The abuses of some are well known, however, and the persecutions of many are historic fact. This is not an attempt to paint all Catholics as evil, nor all French as evil.
There are several surprising turns along the way, making this novel a thoroughly enjoyable read. It is a romance, it is a historical, but it is much more. Now I am chaffing to read the next book in the series when it comes out!
Sanctuary by Molly Noble Bull; first in the Faith of Our Fathers Series
Paperback: 286 pages
Publisher: Tsaba House (September 15, 2007)
Available at many fine bookstores and on www.amazon.com