I’ve been knocked off my feet with a bug again which has slowed me down but as promised in my previous post, I’m here to reveal my choice for my reading challenge with you all. For February, I decided to pick Read a book with a beautiful cover. I’m an absolute sucker for beautiful covers and sprayed edges. I love adding them to my vast collection. The Cloisters by Katy Hays is absolutely gorgeous. I picked this up when I went to Waterstones in Piccadilly (7 floors of unquestionable joy). I really hope you enjoy this review.
What’s it all about?
At the heart of this story is the protagonist, Ann Stilwell, Slightly awkward, slightly unsure of herself yet full of drive. She ends up in New York City hoping to out run the drama of her past by spending her time working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art over the summer. However, things don’t quite work out and she finds herself at The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its collection of medieval and Renaissance art. Ann is still excited to work here but she soon becomes drawn into the lives of her colleagues: Patrick, the. museum’s curator, Leo, the nonconformist gardener and Rachel, a rich, beautiful and well connected intern. Ann aspires to be more like her so pays a lot of attention to everything she does.
“The question was always: Could they change those futures, or were they predestined? Were they fate? This is the question that underlies what we are doing here today.”
Ann is desperate to be a part of the research that Patrick and Rachel are working on. She decides to make herself invaluable to The Cloisters, joining Rachel in her every whim and indulging Patrick’s theories, regardless of how outlandish they are. As time passes, she discovers a mysterious deck of 15th century Italian tarot cards, thought to be lost to history, throwing Ann into the centre of a game with deadly consequences. Someone will end up dead with the rest of them under suspicion for murder. Things start to spiral out of control and Ann has a decision to make: is the future predetermined or is she free to defy the cards she’s been dealt?
“What if our whole life—how we live and die—has already been decided for us? Would you want to know, if a roll of the dice or a deal of the cards could tell you the outcome? Can life be that thin, that disturbing?”
As a reader, we are thrown into the world of tarot and fate. It’s expansive, overwhelming and elaborate. When you’re reading it, you can feel the claustrophobia The Cloisters creates. The summer is sweltering, The Cloisters claustrophobic, the scene for desire, fixation, murder and betrayal is set. Desperate to fit in, Ann turns a blind eye to all warning sides. She’s spent her whole life feeling invisible and inconsequential so she yearns to be part of something, no matter how awful may seem. She wants to be heard and for her knowledge and opinions to be valued. The Cloisters gives her that, but at what cost?
“I think I do believe that people can tell the future,” I said quietly.
“But I don’t know why anyone wants to know how their story ends,” she replied.”
The dark academic world reveals itself to be full of toxic relationships, unhealthy rivalries and an atmospheric setting that influences the decisions each and every character makes. Following the murder, Ann’s personality changes. She becomes more bolder, more assertive and much more likely to get her own way. Ultimately, more like Rachel. However, it is what separates these two women that matters the most by the end.
“Like a true cloister, it was silent save for the sound of our footsteps.”
There’s so much to this book. To be perfectly honest, I’ve missed plenty out but I’m hoping that this little taster is enough to get you hooked on this book. It’s visually stunning, it’s written beautifully to match. I feel in love and found myself being dragged deeper into the murky world of obsessive academia. Whilst some might be used to reading novels with academia at its core, I wasn’t so was completely thrilled by it.
I’m desperately trying to catch up with different books and your posts. Thankfully I’ve already read March’s book so I am back on track! I’ll see you next time for more bookish delights.
Big Love xxxx