This week’s guest reviewer is Wendy’s husband Jack Beck –
As Wendy was completing her best-selling memoir The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, we took a road trip through seven states visiting other small used-book stores. We took recorded books with us to listen to on the way and one was Brown’s most famous novel.
I think we had already seen the movie, so this was mostly to ‘compare and contrast’.
I had already toured the south of France a number of times with my folk band ‘Heritage’ and was familiar with the Cathar and Knights Templar history of the region. Also, Wendy and I had visited Rosslyn Chapel a few times, so we knew the Holy Grail legends as well.
Of course the central part of Brown’s book concerns the legends about Jesus and Mary Magdalene having a child and that family line continuing to the present.
We both thought that the mystery and adventure thread throughout the book worked well and we were prepared to go along with the various questionable historical assumptions that Brown incorporated, even those that had excited people about Jesus having sex and such.
That was until the ending –
I mentioned above that we had visited Rosslyn Chapel and so we are familiar with the caretaker’s house that sits alongside it. Remember also that the site is just outside Edinburgh in the east of Scotland.
Towards the end of the book Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu knock at the caretaker’s house and she opens the screen door – we both shrieked! No one in Scotland has a screen door – least of all near the North Sea! Then she offers them coffee – we shrieked again! Nobody in Scotland drinks coffee – they drink tea. That’s when we stopped listening!
As a footnote – The last time I visited Rosslyn Chapel, as the leader of a small group tour of Scotland, I sat inside as a chapel guide addressed us and various other tourists. Her address covered the history of the building and the family that built and still own it. I could sense a growing impatience as she neared the end and finally she said “I know, I know – you want to know what’s buried below the floor and whether it’s the Holy Grail”. She continued “The best theory I’ve heard is that it’s Elvis Presley”.
However, this is meant to be a book review. As long as you understand that it’s a novel and not intended to be taken as historical fact, then you will be carried along by the excitement of the chase and the unexpected twists.