The Cleaner of Chartres
By: Salley Vickers
In the midst of a quiet, quaint little French town, the story of a diminutive and mysterious young woman unravels in The Cleaner of Chartres written by Salley Vickers. In the shadow of the great cathedral of Notre Dame, Salley Vickers has created a delightfully varied cast of characters, all of who help to reveal savory morsels of Agnes Morel’s past. This book is an exquisite and captivating read which you will hate to put down. Even the sleepiest moments seem to reveal something more. Vickers has created a masterful web with all of the characters that she has perfectly developed to support or wear Agnes down. Agnes, the mysterious woman who one day showed up on the impressive steps of the great cathedral with no story, no sordid past, and seemingly no hope for her future.
Cracking the spine of this book I had much akin to the sleepy town in regards to the lead mysterious lead character a small idea of what this story would entail. In the first few chapters Salley Vickers had me baited and set – hook, line and sinker, artfully leading me through the labyrinth like path that is the life of Agnes Morel. From the moment we first knew of this olive skinned babe in the woods she was cloaked in mystery. Left by her mother in a small basket, and given to the nuns of the local convent to raise ho hope for the best and fear for the worst. It was the winding path of the labyrinth that drew Agnes to the town of Chartres but this winding path is also very much a metaphor for her life and reflective of the way this story is told.
This is one of those books you should tuck into your bag this summer when you travel. Sally Vickers style of writing is like watching a movie, smooth and relaxing all while enticing you to become emotionally invested in the life of Agnes Morel. In a life that seems unkind, upon coming to Chartres Agnes finds a bit of luck in the form of a place to stay and different jobs that support her. Through this new life Agnes and the supportive characters give us retrospective glimpses into her past. With every glimpse, good or bad, you will find yourself loving and supporting this frail yet unbelievably song woman. This is one of those great books where you read and read, so enthralled by the story that all of a sudden you find yourself turning the last page. Pick up this book and discover what I am talking about. Do not fret though, I am sure Salley Vickers will paint a new masterpiece for us in the near future.