The Cleaner of Chartres: A Novel by Salley Vickers
Published by: Viking Adult
Published on: June 27, 2013
Page Count: 304
My Reading Format: ARC provided by NetGalley for my Kindle
Available Formats: Hardcover and Kindle editions
Each morning Agnes cleans the cathedral in Chartres, a small town in France. She is quiet and dependable, and does her job well. Soon she's doing odd jobs for other people in town. Everyone appreciates her diligence but no one can seem to get close enough to hear to learn about her past or how she came to live in Chartres. Twenty years prior Agnes had been dropped off as an infant in a basket on the steps of the cathedral, and the story of how she came to be left there was always a mystery both to Agnes herself and those around her. Some of the people in Chartres can't help but speculate and gossip about Agnes, and some of what is said about her is untrue and hurtful. Though she does has a past that she's still working to come to terms with, a few of the townspeople give her the benefit of the doubt and trust her no matter what rumors are circulating about her. Quietly, Agnes is trying to figure out who she is as a person and fill in the missing gaps of her own story. A few of the folks in town are patient with Agnes, treating her with care, and I really enjoyed reading about those relationships.
By the time I finish most books, I want to really feel invested in the main character and feel like I know them personally. I didn't quite have that feeling with this book and its main character Agnes. After struggling a bit with this (and also struggling to sort out the chronology of the story, a bit of a challenge), though I learned much more about her as the book continued, Agnes was still very much a mystery. I had many unanswered questions about her. Though I wasn't as well acquainted with Agnes as I would have liked, her employers and peers in her little town felt the same way. Agnes is simply a woman that no one will every completely know. That's just her nature. By the end of the book, I was OK with that even though I didn't have all the answers.
Three out of five stars