This was thrust into my hand, furtively. I looked around, no other lit-snobs were looking, so I put it in my bag, walked away from the shadowy corner. After rolling my eyes at how bad the writing was, I got into the story. You have to suspend some disbelief (Tom the Builder has sex with an “angel” hours after he buries his wife and after he abandoned his baby son, only to find out the “angel” was the woman he developed a crush on a few weeks prior), but you get swept away with the drama. True soap opera, all about the building of a cathedral in 1100 AD England by Prior Phillip and his monks, with the help of Tom the Builder, Jack Jackson, Alfred. Ellen is Jack’s mother, living in sin with Tom until expelled from the village. Aliena the daugher of an earl, turns her nose up at William who then wreaks havoc on the rest of the story, raping and pillaging. Prior Phillip is an eager monk, rising from the humble rants to oversee the cathedral at Kingsbridge. His brother Francis is a convenient source of information close to the higher powers. Bishop Waleran seethes because he wants to build his own cathedral and has been thwarted by Phillip at every turn. Favorite character was probably Aliena, who went from highborn to poverty, then scraped her way out of it, selling wool, supporting her brother in his quest to regain the earldom, falling in love with Jack and having 2 children by him but still retaining her own self.