Some fascinating history, some amusing dialogue, and (for me) an unbelievable romance. Generally quite good fun.
The Grail, ancient secrets, hidden chambers deep under cathedrals, forgotten ruins, lost books, the legend of Arthur, generations of brave guardians of a precious artifact, an intrepid investigator and his pretty co-conspirator.
So far, so Da Vinci Code.
But this is a universe away from that genre of historic religious thriller. Arthur Prescott is a book-loving university lecturer who is impatient with modern technology.
His passion is the Barchester Cathedral library, where ancient books give him an opportunity to pursue his interest in the Grail, a secret calling passed on to him by his grandfather.
In comes Bethany Davis, there to “digitize” the ancient manuscripts to make them available to all. At first at odds, they become companions in the search for the lost book of Ewolda, the little-known Saxon saint associated with the site, racing against time to save the precious library from being sold and dispersed.
Charlie Lovett, best-selling author of The Bookman’s Tale, is the American son of a Professor of English and his love for Britain shows on every page, to the point where the Englishness of everything threatens to become overly twee. (It’s a thing you see in the books of a few American writers of English crime. Early Elizabeth George is a classic example). And yes, even Jeeves gets a mention.
It could easily have been titled: What ho, Jeeves! Is that the Grail?
But in all, this is a fun and light-hearted romp through history. Some will recognise Barchester as the creation of 19th century British author Anthony Trollope.