Want to read with me? Follow this link to view the list and pick a book (or a few!) to read along with me. I'd love for this project to be collaborative, and will post anyone's thoughts beside my own.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

She rests at last beneath the starry skies.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Spoiler Alert: Plot Summary
This book follows Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu on a twisted path to codes, murder, the nebulous world of academia, and unexpected (and highly controversial) truths. Robert Langdon is a Harvard Professor and specialist in Symbology (the study of symbols) who's called to a murder scene in the Paris Louvre in the middle of the night. The victim is Jacques Saunière, a curator at the museum, and as he slowly dies from a bullet wound to the stomach, he displays his body in a bizarre fashion and leaves a trail of clues for Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu, a cryptologist (who HAPPENS to be his estranged granddaughter!) to discover an essential puzzle piece to a mystery that has plagued historians for CENTURIES. There are far too many twists for me to reveal them here (and I wouldn't want to ruin them for you if you haven't read it!) but Robert Langdon and Sophie follow the clues all the way to a STUNNING conclusion. (Sneak peek - it involves the Holy Grail, Mary Magdalene, and possible descendants of Christ!) The main plotline also involves Opus Dei, a rigid Catholic sect (some members of which practice corporal mortification - aka, HURTING YOURSELF for God, everyone's fave), and an albino monk named Silas who adheres strictly to their practices. Silas and his mentor, Bishop Aringarosa, are acting on the instructions of a man who simply calls himself "The Teacher". The Teacher orders the murder of several men (including Saunière) via Silas, and it all has to do with the SECRETS that Dan Brown waits the whole book to tell you (and which I will NOT divulge to you so easily here! thought you were going to get them, didn't you!?) and their relation to a secret society named the Priory of Sion, of which many famous men were members (Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, and YOU GUESSED IT! Da Vinci).
Spoiler Over: Continue Here

As you may remember, this book was a hot topic about 9 years ago (when I was a wee high school lassie!). I remember a time when everyone who was Anyone was reading it; of course, I was NOT anyone, and at that time, I was not reading it. I did read it a bit after its heyday, and remember this reaction:
"This book is so great, I LOOOOOOVE IT!"
"Oh my gosh, NO WAY!"
"No seriously, NO WAY! No WAY."
"Okay, really? Isn't that a stretch, DB?"
"Hm. Hm. Okay. Yeah, yeah yeah."

My reaction this time around was pretty much the same. Luckily, I was able to enjoy the experience of reading it MORE by reading the middle 300 pages aloud with Diana at the Redwoods National Park and on the way back to San Francisco. Needless to say, Dan Brown is MUCH more fun when you read it in Super Dramatic Voices. I even went so far as to attempt to differentiate my British accents to show class and regional differences (which I mostly achieved by mimicking various Harry Potter characters) and Diana and I both managed to create a French-accented English for Sophie Neveu that was so thick as to be unintelligible. (Monsieuruh May-ull, how do you zay ze zuh?)

Judging from the fact that I had to go to 4 bookstores to find this book and that I remembered exactly NONE of it from reading it the first time, I have a feeling that including this book on the list of classics is generous, to say the least. We'll see if it stands the test of time, but I'm thinking the chances are slim. My guess as to why the book was so popular is that it deals with controversial and and century-old questions of religion and truth. Nothing gets people going like questions about Christ and murders to boot! In reading it a second time, though, it read like a bad screenplay for a knock-off Indiana Jones film. I will admit it was a welcomed piece of literary candy to enjoy between Melville and Joyce!

I wish I had more to say, but honestly, that's all I've got. I'm off to read A Painting of the Painter as a Wee Lad. I think I got that one right! Hope so...

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