Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett (19 October − 27 December)

Good job, Alison! I finally (finally!) finished this book, which, as you can see, I’ve been working on for two months. Now, obviously, I’ve read maybe a few other books since I’ve started this one, so two months is not terribly pathetic, but it certainly feels like I’ve been reading this forever.

Pillars of the Earth tells the stories of a whole bunch of interconnected people — Tom, whose life goal is to be master builder on a cathedral; Phillip, a monk in a small cell who hopes to make his priory strong; William, whose marriage to a girl called Aliena is called off by the girl herself and who decides to take revenge on, well, everyone; Aliena, who vows to right the wrongs done to her family; and Jack, who loves Aliena from the moment he meets her. It’s all set over many years in the 1100s and brings in a lot of history, like the fighting between King Stephen and Empress Maud and later the murder of Thomas Becket.

It’s really very good. The problem I had with it is that it’s just so long! At 983 pages, it’s definitely the longest novel I’ve ever read. I just could not focus on it for more than an hour at a time when I started it, so I relegated it to my at-work bathroom reading since the book is surprisingly small and easier to fit in my bag than many of the books I read. Hooray mass-market paperbacks.

Brilliantly, though, and as I would have hated had I read this more quickly, Follett spends more than a few sentences of the novel reminding the reader what has happened in the past. I caught myself a few times going, “Oh, right, Ellen did curse that fellow at the beginning of the novel!” and such.

You should read this if you have a few months to spare, or a long weekend with nothing to do.

Rating: 7/10

3 thoughts on “Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett (19 October − 27 December)

  1. eric says:

    Do like I do: allow an hour each morning to read a bit (after a while you allow yourself a couple of hours!), and you will find it hard to put it down. I suppose because it covers an era we don’t really know much about, and (I personally believe) Ken has done a fantastic job.Once I finished Pillars of the Earth (and read the first chapter of “World without End” as listed as an “appetiser” at the end) I went straight to the local newsagent’s and bought that one. Fascinating reading, and a job well done Ken!

  2. Alison says:

    Tricia — it’s definitely intimidating! When I was getting overwhelmed by it I made sure to keep reading until something really exciting was happening and then I’d stop, so I’d make sure to come back to it later! Don’t worry, though, those exciting bits happen quite often.Eric — I do read for at least an hour every day, but I’ve never read a book quite so long. I actually bought this book because someone had given me <>World Without End<>, so there’s no doubt I will be reading that one. It’s a giant hardcover, though, so I don’t think I’ll be carrying it around with me… 🙂

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