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Cover for The Cloister and the Hearth
Isbn: 978-91-7605-113-9
Publisher: Anncona Media
Novels History In english
Accessible since: February 2024
Narrator: Tom Denholm
Length: 35 hours 55 minutes


The Cloister and the Hearth

The Cloister and the Hearth by British author Charles Reade and has been recognized as one of the most successful historical novels. Beautifully narrated by Tom Denholm making 35 hours feel like 3 …

Set in the 15th century, the Cloister and the Hearth is the story of Gerald Eliassoen, a young scribe and illuminator, who travels through seven different countries. Gerald is afraid of persecution from a burgomaster, and so he escapes from Rome to Holland, to search and find a place to make money for his family. His father and mother die, and Gerald's brothers decide to take most of the share, and instead tell Gerald that his wife, Margaret, has died. This was all a lie, but Gerald believed it, and decided to attempt suicide. But instead of killing himself and escaping death, he decides to become a friar. It's a long and winding picaresque novel set in 15th century Europe reflecting the conflict between family and church which overshadowed the lives of so many in medieval times.  

Its uniqueness lies in the way Reade, having meticulously researched his subject and the period, gives us insights more detailed than any other writer of fiction into medieval lifestyles and morals, combined with vivid descriptions of his characters – many based on real historical figures – and locations. He deliberately strays towards a medieval writing style, with many an archaic word to tantalise the reader or listener (an education in itself).

Until well into the twentieth century, ‘The Cloister and the Hearth’ was considered one of the greatest novels in the English language. Its popularity may have faded, but those who have read it will tell you of the enduring power of Reade’s tour de force. A revival is long overdue, and is deserved: it’s an exceptional book.

Both Thomas Wolfe and Arthur Conan Doyle named the novel as their favorite, Doyle stating that “I do not know where I can find a book in which the highest qualities of head and of heart go together as they do in this one.”

Charles Reade (1814-1884) was an English novelist and dramatist, best known for The Cloister and the Hearth, first published in 1861. Audiobook read by Tom Denholm, running time 35 hours, 55 min. Unabridged full version. 

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