The Cloister

The Cloister Review

From National Book Award-winning writer James Carroll comes a novel of the timeless love story of Peter Abelard and Heloise, and its impact on a modern priest and a Holocaust survivor seeking sanctuary in Manhattan.

Father Michael Kavanagh is shocked to see a friend from his seminary days named Runner Malloy at the altar of his humble Inwood community parish. Wondering about their past, he wanders into the medieval haven of The Cloisters, and begins a conversation with a lovely and intriguing museum guide, Rachel Vedette.

Rachel, a scholar of medieval history, has retreated to the quiet of The Cloisters after her harrowing experience as a Jewish woman in France during the Holocaust. She ponders her late father's greatest intellectual work: a study demonstrating the relationship between the famously discredited monk Peter Abelard and Jewish scholars. Something about Father Kavanagh makes Rachel think he might appreciate her continued studies, and she shares with him the work that cost her father his life.

At the center of these interrelated stories is the classic romance between the great scholar Peter Abelard and his intellectual equal Heloise. For Rachel, Abelard is the key to understanding her people's place in intellectual history. For Kavanagh, he is a doorway to understanding the life he might have had outside of the Church. The Cloister is James Carroll at his best.

Title:The Cloister

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Beth Cato

    I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley.A stunning book, beautifully written. Carroll brings to life the story of Abelard and Heloise, but not to focus on the tragic nature of their roma...

  • Karen

    The Cloister - James Carroll, Mar 6, 4.56, 384 pagesA well-researched piece of historical fiction written by former priest James Carroll. It is based on historically significant people, fascinating su...

  • CoffeeandInk

    The Cloisters is a novel of ideas that made me feel as breathless and on edge as I do when reading a thriller. With masterful writing and pacing, the author creates two worlds for the characters to in...

  • Sharon

    Carroll has written three story threads in three different time periods. I was ignorant of Peter Abelard and Héloïse but I will never forget them and what they stood for against unbelievable odds. I...

  • Annie

    Originally published on my blog: Nonstop ReaderA new narrative historical fiction from James Carroll and Doubleday, The Cloister uses parallel storylines from the 12th and 20th centuries to illuminate...

  • Trin

    A Catholic grapples with "the Jewish question" for 360 pages.OY VEY.Far be it for me to speak for the entirety of the Jewish people, but: as long as you cool it with the murder and the genocide, we do...

  • Denice Barker

    I finished this book a couple of weeks ago and can’t get it out of my mind. After thinking about it for a couple of weeks I don’t know how to tell you it’s worth every minute of your time and do...

  • Nancy

    Religion, Philosophy and RomanceAfter an unsettling meeting with an old friend from seminary, Father Kavanagh wanders through Central Park. To escape the rain, he takes shelter in The Cloisters. He’...

  • Kathleen Gray

    I have not read Carroll for a long time but this came along as a Netgalley ARC and well, I was happy to enter his world again. This time he explores the tale of Heloise and Abelard. Father Michael Kav...

  • Ally

    The initial subject of the book intrigued me, but after getting 1/3 of the way in, I was not enjoying the read. I went to Catholic school for 10 years and I was still unsure about a lot of the terms t...