Knowledge of Angels CL

Jill Paton Walsh, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $21.95 (268p) ISBN 978-0-395-68666-9
Set on a fictive Mediterranean island in medieval Europe, Walsh's dark philosophical religious fable moves through two intersecting subplots. Amara, who was abandoned as an infant and raised by wolves, is captured by shepherds. Unable to speak or walk upright, she is sent to a convent where she becomes the object of an experiment to determine whether knowledge of God is innate. The other plot strand involves Palinor, an atheistic humanist prince and castaway who seeks refuge on the island but is persecuted by the Catholic Church. Beneditx, a pious scholar, attempts to persuade the unyielding Palinor that God exists. With the arrival of a special inquisitor from Rome, the clash between secular and conservative ecclesiastical values moves inexorably toward a gruesome climax. Walsh, a prolific author of young-adult books, tackles large questions in her first serious religious parable for adults: How can one reconcile the existence of evil with faith in a beneficent God? Why does religion spawn intolerance and violence? Sonorous prose, a polyphonic interweaving of themes and a diverse cast of characters from all rungs of society leaven an often didactic tale which addresses timeless issues. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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