I’m back with another book review for you this Monday afternoon. Discovery by Leslie Schweitzer Miller does some jumping back and forth between time periods and focuses on three main characters: Giselle – a French biblical scholar; David – an American archaeologist; and Abbé Francois Bérenger Sauniere – a French priest in the late 1800s. Giselle and David live in present day (well 2012-2013) and the bulk of the novel follows them, but it occasionally jumps back in time to give us more insight in to what Sauniere was doing and the secrets he uncovered. How are they all connected? Giselle is related to one of Sauniere’s colleagues and confidante, Antoine Gélis. In the late 1800s, Antoine was murdered – most likely because of a secret he was keeping for Sauniere. Now over 100 years later, Giselle and her boyfriend David do some research to try to uncover the truth about Gelis’ murder. What they discover leads them on an adventure and makes them question history, religion, and themselves.
The novel was pretty interesting and it explores the idea that Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute but in fact one of Jesus’ disciples and his wife. Don’t be turned off by the religious subject matter of this book. It really has a lot to do with history and it doesn’t matter if you’re religious or not. In fact, I’m not religious and I found the book interesting.
Giselle is religious and although she admires Mary Magdalene she has trouble even considering the idea that some things her religion is based on may not be true. Her boyfriend, David, is not religious and so their discovery really makes them examine themselves, their beliefs, and their support or lack thereof of each other.
While I enjoyed the novel, I thought at times the writing was a bit corny. Sure, David is supposed to be this dashing, charismatic, handsome archaeologist but he is constantly quoting famous authors and poets at her. For example after Giselle jokes that the smell of the lavender everywhere (they are in the south of France) might be an aphrodisiac, David assures her that she is the turn-on not the scent and continues that she is “the blossom with the irresistibly sweet nectar” and goes on a few lines later to say, “Maybe, when I have something unique to say, I will. In the meantime, I’ll say, ‘You have witchcraft in your lips. There is more eloquence in a sweet touch of them than in the tongues of the whole French council.” The corniness factor was a bit high for me, but overall I did like the story.
My only other tiny issue with the story is that it feels incomplete. You don’t ever get any real answers and things just seem left undone. But maybe that’s what makes it realistic – sometimes we don’t get answers and sometimes we do and we don’t like what they are.
I’ll leave you with a quote from the book that I really liked:
“Ultimately, all that really matters is what you believe and the meaning you make of what you discover; after all, nothing can be proved – or disproved. I think it’s sort of futile to try to bake abstract creations of the mind and concrete things you can touch into the same soufflé. All I believe in is us and the power of the human spirit.”
*I received this book complimentary, but all opinions are my own.*