Its uniqueness lies in the way Reade, having meticulously researched his subject and the period, gives us insights more detailed than any other writer of fiction into medieval lifestyles and morals, combined with vivid descriptions of his characters – many based on real historical figures – and locations. He deliberately strays towards a medieval writing style, with many an archaic word to tantalise the reader or listener (an education in itself).
Until well into the twentieth century, ‘The Cloister and the Hearth’ was considered one of the greatest novels in the English language. Its popularity may have faded, but those who have read it will tell you of the enduring power of Reade’s tour de force. A revival is long overdue, and is deserved: it’s an exceptional book.
— Summary by Tom Denholm
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