Friday, August 28, 2015

The Sunken Cathedral; Kate Walbert

The Sunken Cathedral; Kate Walbert
Scribner - 2015

The Sunken Cathedral is a character driven novel with not much plot, but still a very interesting read.  There is a sense of dread throughout the novel about some catastrophe looming, with surreal images of the Hudson River flooding NYC as strange storms threaten to devastate New York.

Marie and Simone grew up in France and later moved from Europe to Chelsea after WWII reuniting as young mothers after both women married Americans.  Now widows in their 80's it's hard not to notice just how much life in their NY borough has changed.  Both are still active women but anxious women as well. 

The women begin a painting class from Sid Morris along with Helen a former art historian who is also in her 80's. Sid leaves a lot to be desired. His studio is filthy, his manners missing and he's eccentric to say the least.  Both Marie and Simone oddly seem interested in the uncouth Sid.

Elizabeth is another character, a tenant of Marie. She is a 40-something woman with not much self-confidence.  Elizabeth struggles with the uncertainty of life. Her young son Ben attends a progressive K-8 school where parents are thoroughly involved, and seem to have it all together which intimidates Elizabeth all the more. Children at this school are prepared at an early age for terror attacks, earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Told from the third person POV, I liked the fact the central characters were seniors, something you don't see as often in fiction today.  The story was well written and footnotes can be found at the bottom of many pages which further explores the more personal inner thoughts and details of various characters -- this worked extremely well IMO.

Overall, I was very pleased with this novel. It's different, but in a good way and fewer than 300 pages as well.

4/5 stars
eGalley

11 comments:

  1. This might not have enough plot for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd still try it as there is plenty to hold your interest, including lots of interesting reading about art as well.

      Delete
  2. I like the sound of the book and that it has senior citizens in it. I checked and my library has it so I added it to my tbr list.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It sounds pretty interesting even without much of a plot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I was actually surprised by how much I liked it.

      Delete
  4. I really enjoyed this book as you can see from my review here http://drchazan.blogspot.com/2015/05/literary-impressionism.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I read your review but couldn't comment without signing up for google plus. I loved reading about how much and why you enjoyed this one. The art aspect was very interesting for me as well.

      Delete
  5. This book sounds very different. The premise, the characters, the style and the footnotes, as you describe them, all seem to be very creative touches.

    I am appreciating character driven books more and more. I am not generally bothered if such works do not have a lot of plot.

    With that, one would expect a story with a premise such as this one to be more plot driven.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The characters are so well developed and the writing is so well done that it really hooks you and you almost don't really care how everything shakes out. Art lovers are in for a treat as well when they read this one.

      Delete
  6. It's cool that it's about seniors for sure!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to visit and double thanks for any comments. If you ask a question in your comments, I will try to reply to it here, or by email if your settings allow me to do so. Thank again for visiting.

(I apologize for the word verification, spammers spoil it for all sadly.)