Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Book Review: Brigid of Kildare by Heather Terrell

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I was initially drawn to Brigid of Kildare because of the amazing cover art.  I’m a lover of all things Celtic, and the design of this one was just amazing.  However, we should never judge a book by it’s cover, should we?  Upon reading the plot description, I was hooked.  As a Christian with Irish heritage, this was right up my alley.

Brigid of Kildare combines truth from documented history, mysterious speculative fiction as seen in The Da Vinci Code and just a hint of romance.  Those interested in early Christian history would find this story fascinating.  I know very little of 5th Century Christendom, but reading this has shown me how much has evolved and remained the same over the centuries. 

Changing perspective every chapter or so, the story is told in three motifs:

  • Brigid: the Life is told from the narrator’s point of view, in 3rd person present tense.  These chapters witness Brigid’s time as a child, her baptism by the beloved Saint Patrick and her decision to live a life in service to God.  Eventually her story line merges into the same timeline as:
  • The Letters of Decius, Roman priest and artistic illuminator of scripture.  His encounter is detailed in his personal writings over the course of a couple of years, beginning in 470 A.D.  These pages are later discovered and are a part of the research found in:
  • Present Day:  Told from the narrator’s point of view, in 3rd person past tense.  Alex Patterson, while appraising relics for the Catholic Church, becomes intrigued with the story of Brigid and goes on a quest to determine if a particular relic is the mysterious Book of Kildare, predating the famous Book of Kells.
While this novel was not a thriller a la The Da Vinci Code, I found it to be very compelling.  Terrell’s writing enabled me to feel like I’d stepped back in time 1,500 years.  The struggles, beliefs and perspectives of each main character moved the story along, causing me to want to learn more and to see where the plot would lead. Each motif was told in a different voice and style, and I found myself constantly changing my preference for one over the other. 

Kildare moves along and winds up the tale in less than 300 pages.  The plot and characters were well developed and I enjoyed my time with them.  There were some (but not all) elements of spirituality with which I could relate, drama in the plot that kept the pages turning, and a very small sprinkling of romance as well.  And while I may not agree with some of the more heretical beliefs of this abbess, I enjoyed meeting her and discovering the world she inhabited.  If what this book postulates is true, the Christian Church (Catholicism in particular) would have been very different today if Brigid of Kildare had not factored into its history.


This book was provided by Amazon.com as a part of their Vine reviewers program. No other compensation for this review was given. Per Amazon's rules, I am not permitted to offer this book in a giveaway.  :(


  1. Interesting! I saw this book at Costco and was very tempted.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I have a copy of this book...thanks for the review I really need to read it soon!!!

  4. I'm surprised you didn't get it read before I did, Miss CelticLady! You're more of a fan than I am! ;)

    I think you'll enjoy it-- I look forward to your review!


  5. Katy commented earlier today, but for some reason it isn't showing up here. Her comment:

    "Interesting! I saw this book at Costco and was very tempted."

    My response:

    Katy, I hope you pick it up at Costco and come back to share your thoughts as well!

  6. That cover is really cool!

    I haven't read much Celtic historical fiction, but I really love Ireland and all the history and legends surrounding the country. I'll have to check this one out!

  7. Michelle:

    With your love of Ireland, etc. you'll really like this one!

  8. Came over from Cym Lowell's McLinky links for Book Review Party Wednesday (BRPW).

    I've never heard of this book before... maybe I ought to go to Costco...

    How would you rate the ending? I find that some authors purposely leave the ending hanging, I think it's a marketing strategy and I hate it!

    Cherry Mischievous

  9. Cherry:

    Thanks for coming on over!

    I agree with you about having good endings in books. Nothing rankles me more than spending time & effort on a book, enjoying 90% of it, and then having a bad ending that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    After your comment, I went back and re-read the last chapter and epilogue. In my opinion, Terrell left the ending as closed as she could make it, given the subject matter. I liked the ending and the feeling it gave. If you ever read this one, I'd love to know your opinion too!



  10. Hahaha yes you are right, I have had it for a couple months but you know my review pile just keeps on growing.... so that is going to be one to read if I get tired of the Darcy family I will sneak it in. I am almost done with Darcy Cousins and enjoying it. Highest Stake, not so much had to put it aside for a bit....

  11. CelticLady:

    That's funny-- I put aside The Darcy Cousins to read this! So far I'm enjoying that one too, but I was hitting a deadline with Amazon on Brigid. Reading priorities are now becoming more dependent on deadline dates than my level of interest. Of course, the books wouldn't be in the TBR pile if I didn't want to read them in the first place!


  12. This sounds really interesting! As a lover, of, as you, all things Celtic, I'll have to try to check this one out. Thanks for the great review!

    Cafe Pearl

  13. Thanks for stopping by, Pearl! I hope you get to read this one someday!


  14. +JMJ+

    Hi, Laura! I'm here from the Book Review Party as well. =)

    I'm afraid the Da Vinci Code comparison is putting me off a bit. I understand that you want to avoid spoilers, but could you elaborate a little bit on why this book reminded you of Brown's novel? Thanks!

  15. Enbrethiliel:

    Thanks for stopping by! Well, without too many spoilers, I'd say that it reminds me of Brown's novel in that there's a Catholic mystery being solved by the main character in the modern time line portion of the story. There isn't the same level of suspense, though. There's no albino chasing anyone in a murderous rage. This is much more low-key than that. Also, The Da Vinci Code was frequently quite offensive to me as a Christian. Terrell's book showed us some questionable theology, but everything presented was done so in a history-telling fashion, not in a massive-conspiracy line of thinking. It's a much quieter book. No, it's not a page-turner like Brown's books, but I enjoyed it just the same.




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