The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
I didn't expect a tome like this about building cathedrals, monks, the wool industry and knights to be particularly interesting for me. It's not my usual genre. But my mom loves Ken Follett and I've been saying I'd read this for years.
I enjoyed the setting and historical aspects of it. The descriptions were fantastic, and learning about the building process fit naturally within a gripping plot. However, there were some things that took away from my enjoyment of this book. Firstly, I could have done without the graphic rape scenes. I know that Pillars was published in 1989, which makes it as old as I am, and I am happy that the literary community has evolved beyond rape as character development. That has not aged well at all. Secondly, since it's a hefty door-stopper, I understand why it may have seemed necessary to recap the plot at certain points, especially as characters towards the end reflect on the choices and events that have led them to this point. However, for a reader with a reasonably good memory, it felt unnecessarily repetitive, slowed the pace down and felt a bit as if the wind had gone out of the author's sails. It's one thing to wrap up the book neatly; it's another to retell it within its own pages. Those two issues aside, I enjoyed Pillars, but I don't think I'll be finishing the series.