I inherited a love of France from my father and have always had a very romanticised view of the country; I love the language, the food, the countryside and the culture. Thus I have always enjoyed reading novels set across the channel – indeed one of the reasons I love Joanne Harris so much are her enchanting descriptions of French life. As I also enjoy historical literature when I was lent this novel by a friend I eagerly devoured it from cover to cover – despite it’s somewhat sizeable length.
Set in two different time zones 800 years apart, Labyrinth follows herbalist and healer Alais in 1209 as she tries to protect the secret of The Holy Grail and later Dr Alice Tanner who discovers the body of two skeletons at an archeological site in southern France in 2005. Rich in the heritage of both historical and modern France, Mosse’s writing is hugely atmospheric and wonderfully descriptive, bringing medieval Carcassonne to life.
Despite having been born centuries apart, Alais and Alice have much in common; and it soon becomes apparent that their lives are inexplicably linked and the women share a common destiny. The plot is intricately woven and littered with pieces of a jigsaw that cleverly slots together as the novel progresses. Labyrinth is the sort of novel that is so meticulously researched; a feat evident in every page the reader turns. Both a stunning tale and history lesson in one, Mosse’s skill at weaving timelines centuries apart, painting multi-layered and well thought out characters and telling a masterful story to boot, show why she’s often considered as one of today’s most brilliant authors.
With spectacular descriptions of the French landscape, themes of religion and history in abundance, and an inspiring plot, Labyrinth is literary craftsmanship at its best.
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