The Cleaner of Chartres, Paperback
4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


"A lovely book ...wise at heart and filled with colourful characters". (Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat). Salley Vickers, the top ten bestselling author of Miss Garnet's Angel and Dancing Backwards, returns with The Cleaner of Chartres, a perfect book club book, for readers who loved Joanne Harris' Chocolat.

There is something special about the ancient cathedral of Chartres, with its mismatched spires, astonishing stained glass and strange labyrinth. And there is something special too about Agnes Morel, the mysterious woman who is to be found cleaning it each morning.

No one quite knows where she came from - not the diffident Abbe 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 is subtly transforming their lives, even if they couldn't quite say how. But with a chance meeting in the cathedral one day, the spectre of Agnes' past returns, provoking malicious rumours from the prejudiced Madame Beck and her gossipy companion Madame Picot.

As the hearsay grows uglier, Agnes 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 captivating charm, but infused throughout with deeper truths, it speaks of the power of love and mercy to transform the tragedies of the past. "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). "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 top 10 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 and is an Impac award winning novelist.

She is currently a RLF fellow at Newnham College Cambridge and she divides her time between Cambridge and London.




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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

A well observed story of Agnes, who was abandoned at birth, and how she ends up cleaning the cathedral at Chartres. Absorbing but the ending is a bit too contrived & perhaps overall too twee.

Review by

A lovely little book from Salley Vickers. The story is set in Chartres and centred around the beautiful cathedral. Agnes is a "lost soul" who finds peace and friendship while working as a cleaner in the cathedral. I liked the story with its tale of her mysterious past, I thought the ending was a little bit "trite" but neverless I enjoyed the book and particularly liked the descriptions of the interior of this grand building and its exquisite stained glass windows, If planning a trip to France I would recommend reading this book before departure.