'A lovely book . . . wise at heart and filled with colourful characters' Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat A beautifully beguiling new novel from Salley Vickers, author of the bestselling Miss Garnet's Angel and winner of the 2007 IMPAC Dublin award, as heard on Radio 4's Book at Bedtime.
There is something special about the ancient cathedral in Chartres, with its mismatched spires, astonishing stained-glass and strange labyrinth. And there is something special too about Agnès Morel, the mysterious woman who is to be found cleaning it each morning.
No one quite knows where she came from - not the diffident Abbé Paul, who discovered her one morning twenty years ago, sleeping in the north porch; nor lonely Professor Jones, whose chaotic existence she helps to organise; nor Philippe Nevers, whose neurotic sister and newborn child she cares for; nor even the irreverent young restorer, Alain Fleury, who works alongside her each day and whose attention she catches with her tawny eyes, her colourful clothes and elusive manner. And yet everyone she encounters would surely agree that she has touched their lives in subtly transformative ways, even though they couldn't quite say how.
But with a chance meeting in the cathedral one day, the spectre of Agnès' past returns, provoking malicious speculation from the prejudiced Madame Beck and her gossipy companion Madame Picot. As the rumours grow more ugly, Agnès is forced to confront her history, and the mystery of her origins finally unfolds.
The Cleaner of Chartres is a compelling story of darkness and light; of traumatic loss and second chances. Told with a sparkling wit and beguiling charm, but infused throughout with deeper truths, it speaks of the power of love and mercy to transform the tragedies of the past.
'Salley Vickers is a novelist whose imaginative journey always promises magic and mystery. The Cleaner of Chartres shows her on top form in a rich weave of loss and redemption spiked with Ms Vickers' irrepressible wit' Robert McCrum, Observer 'With its subtle combination of explorations of faith and love, The Cleaner of Chartres is something of a return to the terrain of Vickers's first novel, Miss Garnet's Angel. Certainly, it's another gem' Independent 'Salley Vickers sees with a clear eye and writes with a light hand and she knows how the world works. She's a presence worth cherishing' Philip Pullman 'Reveals itself as a surprising exploration of the mysteries of imagination and faith' Joanna Trollope, Book of the Year, Daily Telegraph 'Rich, complex and haunting' Sunday Times 'Subtle and utterly joyous...a contemporary moral and psychological drama every bit as absorbing as Miss Garnet's Angel' Sunday Times 'A magical and at times sinister story about love, loss, secrets and forgiveness...with Chocolat-type charm' Scotland on Sunday 'The Cleaner of Chartres is a return to form' Sunday Express 'Combining grace with gravity and wisdom with wit, this latest novel by Salley Vickers simply radiates soul' Red 'If you're looking for a book to take you by surprise, Salley Vickers' latest is the perfect choice' Psychologies Salley Vickers is the author of the word-of-mouth bestseller Miss Garnet's Angel and several other bestselling novels including Mr Golightly's Holiday, The Other Side of You and Dancing Backwards as well as a collection of short stories Aphrodite's Hat. She has worked as a cleaner, a dancer, a university teacher of literature and a psychoanalyst. She is currently a RLF fellow at Newnham College Cambridge and she divides her time between Cambridge and London.
From the bestselling author of Miss Garnet's Angel comes an enchanting and unsettling collection of short stories.
Eli is an ordinary boy with an extraordinary gift. It will shape the course of his whole life but, he learns the hard way, he must keep it hidden from those who know him best. Seeing death is a mixed blessing.
Eli is not the only one defying the world's expectations of him. Cousin Francesca, a charming spinster and a favourite with the children, is harbouring kleptomaniac tendencies. Sarah Palliser, living alone next to a ramshackle graveyard, is more scared of the small box under her stairs than the ghosts outside her window. Meanwhile dreamy artist Nan is nursing a growing obsession with wolves in Britain and the recently widowed Frances finds herself inventing an exotic imaginary boyfriend to pass the time.
Push through an unassuming front door on an unremarkable street or peer into the glowing fluorescent windows of an urban office block and within you'll find strange and unforgettable scenes, normal people caught in situations they do not quite comprehend...
Salley Vickers is a master of the uncanny and the unexpected. In this collection of eleven remarkable stories, she explores bereavement and betrayal, closely guarded secrets and common gossip, long-overdue endings and decidedly strange beginnings. Each story is perfectly formed: a snapshot of a total stranger, a fleeting glimpse of lives spiced with a little something extra.
'Salley Vickers sees with a clear eye and writes with a light hand - she knows how the world works. Salley is a presence worth cherishing' - Philip Pullman
'A wonderful book. Salley Vickers spins a spellbinding account of a family in distress' Elizabeth StroutHow much can love ask of us? Brilliant and mercurial Will Tye suffers a life changing accident. The terrible event ripples through three generations of the complex and eccentric Tye family, bringing to light old tragedies and dangerous secrets. Each member of the family holds some clue to the chain of events which may have led to the accident and each holds themselves to blame. Most closely affected is Will's cousin Cecelia, whose affinity with Will leaves her most vulnerable to his suffering and whose own life is for ever changed by how she will respond to it.Told through the eyes of three women close to Will, his sister, his grandmother and his aunt, Cousins is a novel weaving darkness and light which takes us from the outbreak of World War Two to the present day, exploring the recurrence of tragedy, the nature of trangression, and the limits of morality and love.
'A wonderful book. Salley Vickers spins a spellbinding account of a family in distress' Elizabeth Strout on 'Cousins'Spring, 1918. Nine-year-old Charlotte Tye wakes up unusually early the night before her brother's wedding, and steals out down the familiar track leading from her house to the seashore. There, she meets a local man, standing alone amid the eider ducks, who carries a mysterious message for her... Read more about three generations of the Tye family from the First World War to the present day in the first two chapters of Salley Vickers' powerful new novel, 'Cousins', included in this free e-book.
A charmingly subversive novel about a library in 1950s England, by the acclaimed author of The Cleaner of ChartresSylvia Blackwell, a young woman in her twenties, moves to East Mole, a quaint market town in middle England, to start a new job as a children's librarian. But the apparently pleasant town is not all it seems. Sylvia falls in love with an older man - but it's her connectionto his precocious young daughter and her neighbours' son which will change her life and put them, the library and her job under threat.How does the library alter the young children's lives and how do the children fare as a result of the books Sylvia introduces them to?