Author: Meg Clothier
Publication: March 2, 2023 by Wildfire
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Fantasy
Find it on: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Waterstones
In the name of the Father, not a word of this. Her letters are forbidden.
Beatrice is the convent’s librarian. For years, she has shunned the company of her sisters, finding solace only with her manuscripts.
Then, one carnival night, two women, bleeding and stricken, are abandoned outside the convent’s walls. Moments from death, one of them presses something into Beatrice’s hands: a bewitching book whose pages have a dangerous life of their own.
But men of the faith want the book destroyed, and a zealous preacher has tracked it to her door. Her sisters’ lives—or her obsession. Beatrice must decide. The book’s voice is growing stronger: An ancient power uncoils. Will she dare to listen?
The Book of Eve by Meg Clothier was a powerful and compelling historical fantasy. The story was dark and gloomy in its atmosphere but feminist all the way through. It had remarkable female characters that I won’t forget anytime soon and on top of that it was partly based on the early 15th century Voynich Manuscript, which to this day remains undeciphered.
I randomly picked this book up at the bookstore on a friday because it seemed like my kinda read but of course you can never be completely sure about a book and author that’s new to you. By sunday I had finished the book. I quite literally couldn’t put the book down. It had a bit of a slow start but every chance I got I was continuing where I left off and this is something that doesn’t easily happen anymore.
The Book of Eve features Sister Beatrice, the covent’s librarian, who prefers to be with her books and manuscripts than people, even her sisters of the convent. One night two women show up at the convent at the verge of death. Before dying one of the women shoves a mysterious book at Beatrice, speaking in a language that the scholarly Beatrice doesn’t even understand. Not long after men of faith with Brother Abramo at head, show up who want the book desperately to destroy it for it contains secrets that are forbidden.
Needless to say I could definitely relate to Sister Beatrice and preferring books over people. I adored her love for her manuscripts and how it was often work from ancient authors that wouldn’t exactly be approved of by powerful men, who want to use religion for their own needs, that she cared the most about. Aside from Beatrice, this book had a bunch of other strong female characters like Mother Chiara, Diana and Ortolana that I couldn’t help but love too. Also, I learned that the character of Diana was based on Artemisia Gentileschi and that made me love this book even more.
The author’s writing was also something special. The prose was absolutely beautiful, detailed and unlike anything I’ve read recently. I couldn’t get enough of it. The message that Meg Clothier convened was also one to take notice of. The bond of sisterhood, friendship and resistance was empowering and just amazing to read about.
About the author:
Meg Clothier studied Classics at Cambridge, sailed from England to Alaska and worked as a journalist in London and Moscow. She has published two historical novels, The Girl King (about Tamar, the Elizabeth I of the Caucasus) and The Empress (about a French princess caught up in the Fourth Crusade), and also Sea Fever: A Seaside Companion, a book full of marine lore and seaside charm, with her brother, Chris. Her latest historical novel, The Book of Eve, was published by Hachette in March 2023. She lives on the sunny side of the Quantock Hills with her husband, two children and an improbable amount of vegetables.