Heresy (2010): S.J. Parris

★★★

Giordano Bruno: Book I

In my first version of this post I made a bit of an idiot of myself by getting S.J. Parris confused with C.J. Sansom and reminiscing happily about her Shardlake books. No doubt many of you wondered what I was on about, but Betty was the one who had the kindness to point out my error to me. Betty, thank you. There will be blessings stored up for you in heaven. My only excuse is that I read the Shardlake books fifteen years ago and obviously get easily confused about authors using their initials. For the record, Parris did not write the Shardlake books, but she certainly has written this series about the Italian scholar and philosopher Giordano Bruno. One of my most powerful memories from my first trip to Rome is of lunch eaten in the Campo dei Fiori, in the shadow of the great brooding statue of Bruno, and I’ve long been keen to learn more about him. Historical fiction was an appealing place to start. Parris’s first novel introduces us to Bruno in his mid-thirties, already hounded across Europe by the Inquisition for his heterodox beliefs. Finding refuge in England in 1583, he accompanies his friend Sir Philip Sidney to Oxford, where he swiftly finds himself caught up in a web of murder, danger and espionage.

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