The burning and partial destruction of Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral in April 2019 was shown on television worldwide. People everywhere were grief-stricken and shocked that such a monument to mankind’s ingenuity and perseverance could fall. But it impacted Ken Follett, best-selling author of The Pillars of the Earth, even more. After all, his book was about the fall and rebuilding of a fictional cathedral. He had researched gothic cathedrals extensively. After receiving repeated requests from journalists for his comments on the fire, he decided to write this heartfelt book about the history of Notre-Dame. He also pledged all of this book’s royalties, including his advance, to the French rebuilding fund.
In 1163, the rebuilding of the original Romanesque cathedral was started. It would take almost a hundred years, hundreds of workers, and a fortune to construct the new Gothic building. The people of Paris were rightly proud of the result.
Over the years since then, the cathedral has seen the highs of public sentiment for it ebb and flow. The French Revolution wasn’t kind to it. More than sixty statues affixed to its exterior were decapitated just as France’s monarchs had been. Victor Hugo’s famous book about a hunchback inspired Parisians to repair the damage and restore the cathedral. Ultimately, the site has been razed by fire and other events before but always rose to even greater heights.
I was moved emotionally by both the fire and this book. Notre-Dame has meaning to people worldwide regardless of their religion. If you are want to learn more about its history, and even more importantly, contribute to its future, pick up this little homage to mankind’s resilience against nature. 5 stars!
Thanks to Viking and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.