By Umberto Eco
Guess what? It snowed again. No, this post isn’t about snow, but is does match the setting of the book I’ve just finished, in which footsteps left in the snow are clues in a murder mystery. This was one of the few books I’ve read which several people had advised me to read beforehand, and everyone who saw me reading it said ‘That’s such a great book!’. Turns out they were right. I was up until much later than intended last night, trying to get to the end.
I have watched the film. Many years ago, as teenagers, a group of us used to have occasional video nights. We would hire four or five videos and literally watch them all night. The Name of the Rose was the last video shown on one of these occasions and, whilst I know I was awake and watched it all, I can’t remember a single thing about it. Not a thing.
The book was completely engrossing. A picture of religious life in 14th century Europe, combined with a complex murder mystery and characters so well defined you would know them if you met them, makes this one of the best. The language used is amazing as well. I had to resist the temptation to grab a dictionary every time I met a word I’d never seen before (adumbrates, anyone? Melismas?) If I ever read it again I will make sure I have a dictionary alongside, but I didn’t want to distract myself from the story at a first reading, and most of the less common words can be understood from context.
The background of the tale is of inquisitions, heresy and power plays. The focus of the story is the library, a labyrinth within a Monastery, protected by the librarian and Abbot and containing secrets which they intend to keep hidden. What is the strange book which causes so much trouble? And who is killing off the monks, and why?
I’m not telling. You’ll have to get the book and read it for yourself. Go on.