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The Cleaner of Chartres: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Salley Vickers
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $26.95
Kindle Price: $10.99
You Save: $15.96 (59%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

From the author of Miss Garnet’s Angel, a story of the redemptive power of love and community in the famous French cathedral town

There is something very special about Agnès Morel. A quiet presence in the small French town of Chartres, she can be found cleaning the famed medieval cathedral each morning and doing odd jobs for the townspeople. No one knows where she came from or why. Not Abbé Paul, who discovered her one morning twenty years ago, sleeping on the north porch, and not Alain Fleury, the irreverent young restorer who works alongside her each day and whose attention she catches with her tawny eyes and elusive manner. She has transformed each of their lives in her own subtle way, yet no one suspects the dark secret Agnès is hiding.

When an accidental encounter dredges up a series of tragic incidents from Agnès’s youth, the nasty meddling of town gossips threatens to upend the woman’s simple, peaceful life. Her story reveals a terrible loss, a case of mistaken identity, and a cruel and violent act that haunts her past. Agnès wrestles with her own sense of guilt and enduring heartbreak while the citizens piece together the truth about her life.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Agnès Morel is an enigma. Discovered sleeping on the porch of Chartres cathedral, she has become a fixture there, cleaning the cathedral and tending to the aging priests for the last 20 years. Taking odd jobs about the small town, she has made herself indispensable: organizing Professor Jones’ chaotic papers; posing for Robert Clement, who dreams of painting the perfect Madonna; helping Philippe Nevers care for his abused nephew. But it is her mysterious past that causes the bitter town gossip to begin to suspect and then accuse her of things she did not do. The unwanted scrutiny brings back memories of her past, a past she came to Chartres to escape. Through the viewpoints of the various characters and in flashbacks to her troubled past, the reader learns of Agnès’ depth and strength and the feelings that she so easily arouses in others. With a deft hand, Vickers shows us the layers of human need—to be loved, accepted, and believed—and wraps it in a structure as intricate as the cathedral itself. --Elizabeth Dickie


Praise for the author:
''If you enjoy the work of Marilynne Robinson, Penelope Fitzgerald, James Salter, or Anita Brookner, you should be reading Vickers.'' --Washington Post Book World, praise for the author

Product Details

  • File Size: 517 KB
  • Print Length: 316 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0670922129
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (June 27, 2013)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,409 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, thoughtful and engaging October 30, 2012
This is a beautifully written, thoughtful and engaging book. I enjoyed Miss Garnett's Angel many years ago and tried The Cleaner of Chartres on the strength of it. I was very happy that I had because I enjoyed it very much.

Salley Vickers is a marvellous storyteller and she very subtly creates very believable and recognisable characters, showing their inner lives with gentle penetration and, on the whole, great compassion. I found this aspect of the novel especially involving and her gently-painted psychological insights are what have lingered most strongly with me, and her portraits of aspects and origins of kindness and malice, of decency and selfishness, of humility and self-certainty and so on were very shrewd and delicately done.

Vickers also generates a wonderful sense of place, and the redemptive tale of Agnes, an orphan lost in the world and despised by some but finding her place among people who have come to respect and admire her is both captivating and wise in itself. There are notable similarities to Miss Garnett: the central character is a lonely woman who, without overtly searching, stumbles toward spiritual and personal fulfilment, the central setting is a cathedral where an ancient image is being restored and so on. Nevertheless, it works very well as a tale in its own right and I never felt I was being fobbed off with a re-hash.

You may get a flavour of the style from this: "The sun, shifting in its westward path, was already lighting the South Rose window and smudges of colour, refracted through the glass, were blessing the grey stone of the walls by the scaffolding that concealed the benign Blue Virgin." I found that, and a lot else in the book, extremely evocative and read it all with unalloyed pleasure and I recommend it very warmly - it's a really enjoyable read which will stay with me for a long time.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Loved the characters and the insights into the history and artistry of the cathedral and the town. Missed Agnes and Fr Paul especially. Now that's a sign of good writing, isn't it?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich and beautiful! August 1, 2013
I was sad to see this beautiful book end. The author weaves together a tale of the rich history and lore of Chartres and her labyrinth, along with the story of main-character, Agnes. You will celebrate the power of goodness over evil, and the resilience of the human spirit, and you will yearn to visit, or revisit, Chartres. I highly recommend this book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cleaner of Chartres December 23, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Great story - was intrigued at how the vents of the woman's life unfolded and very sad when I'd finished
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read. November 28, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was quite a lovely story, moved along at a good pace, and the characters and places are all very interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Mina
Extended review available on Mina's Bookshelf
It took me a while to get into this story, but once I did, I found it quite interesting and enjoyable. Different, I would say. Elaborate like the facade of a Gothic cathedral, as rich and beautiful as a mosaic in a stained-glass window, The Cleaner of Chartres' opening chapters summoned my attention with an array of colorful characters, dual timeline, and poignant backstories that made a full and beautiful sense when the last piece of the puzzle was laid down in the form of a startling epiphany. The simultaneous introduction of multiple characters, as essential to the story as the central character itself, may initially confuse and distract the reader, but the inhabitants of Chartres will eventually cling to a corner of your heart with their moving humanity, quirkiness, and pitiful dramas. Salley Vickers' novel can better be described as a modern fairy tale, and a dark one at that. Of that form of storytelling, Vickers' novel features the typical plot structure, motifs, and dramatis personae. Written with the grace and sensitivity of an author who obviously has an understanding of human psychology (Vickers is a former university professor of literature and Jungian psychotherapy), this story lacks the 'fantasy' element (in its place the author introduced the 'mystical' and the 'divine') but it features all the archetypal figures populating a traditional folktale: the heroine/victim of an intrigue/spell (Agnès), a villain (Madame Beck), a donor/helper/rescuer (Jean Dupère, the farmer who found her wrapped in a tablecloth on a frigid winter night; Prof.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book July 5, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Wonderful! sensitively written story. The author blends the individual perspectives of the characters in a way that builds drama and tension, yet maintains the charm of village life. Looking forward to more from this author
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I could not put this book down wonderful December 17, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Love writing of Sally Vickers , she leads me to places and ideas that excite and make me think of the wonders of cultures and people. We are all very different and yet all the same
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A gently related and explored story
The pace is gentle. There are no mad dashes or lists of information. Instead we become involved in the details of Agnes' life. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Mary Boissel
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Read, Great Setting
I liked Salley Vickers' 1st book, Miss Garnet's Angel and have been to Venice to see the Guardi Panels. When I found out she wrote a book based in Chartres, I had to read it. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Shu daizi
4.0 out of 5 stars A fan of Vickers
Have always enjoyed Vickers' books mainly because she peoples them with such wonderful characters. Particularly enjoyed her description of the cathedral because I have visited it... Read more
Published 1 month ago by rosaline monaghan
2.0 out of 5 stars To travel hopefully....
They say that "to travel hopefully is better than to arrive". I found myself travelling hopefully through much of this book, waiting for something meaningful to happen. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Chalky
4.0 out of 5 stars a poignant, touching story
An incredible tale of courage and survival of a young girl, drawn to Chatres.
After missing out on childhood, she finally comes home.
Published 3 months ago by neece
4.0 out of 5 stars An unassuming novel with much to say
Some novels are less than what they appear, others are more so. Some can be read as entertainment only, while some can be read that way but have other things to say. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Lynne Perednia
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite enjoyable
Quite a good read if you like books set in rural France and history. Take it next time you go on holidays!
Published 4 months ago by Rose Balvins
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging melodrama
This is a lovely story, full of querky characters. It leaves you feeling happy and wanting to know more of what happens to Anges. Read more
Published 5 months ago by DJ Arboretum
5.0 out of 5 stars jaye
Salley Vickers never disappoints. Her characters are not stereotypes and are always interesting, and the setting of this novel brought back memories for me, as I had the good... Read more
Published 5 months ago by J. J. Westwood
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
an unusual story of a woman who doesn't seem to belong. Her life has many facets all of which are interesting.
Published 5 months ago by carolyn lloyd
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