Saturday, January 30, 2010

Friday Favorite - Cathedral

Cathedral, by Nelson DeMille, is a book I found in a box of books at my in-law's house in 1983. I remember when I found it because I know I read it before my husband and I went to New York City as part of a delayed honeymoon trip. To be honest, I can't remember details of the book, except to recall that I found it incredible gripping and amazingly detailed.

From Mr. DeMille's website, here's a description of the book:

"St. Patrick's Day, New York City. Everyone is celebrating, but everyone is in for the shock of his life. Born into the heat and hatred of the Northern Ireland conflict, IRA man Brian Flynn has masterminded a brilliant terrorist act - the seizure of Saint Patrick's Cathedral. Among his hostages: the woman Brian Flynn once loved, a former terrorist turned peace activist. Among his enemies: an Irish-American police lieutenant fighting against a traitor inside his own ranks and a shadowy British intelligence officer pursuing his own cynical, bloody plan. The cops face a booby-trapped, perfectly laid out killing zone inside the church. The hostages face death. Flynn faces his own demons, in an electrifying duel of nerves, honor, and betrayal…"

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that this is not the kind of book that I usually read. But then you also have probably noticed that I'm willing to read a variety of books. This one takes place almost entirely in St. Patrick's Cathedral and I had rarely read a book that painted such a vivid picture of a place. So when my husband and I went to New York City in the summer of 1983, I had to go see the cathedral. I'm not sure my husband quite understood the attraction, after all, we're not Catholic. But as someone who has more than a passing interest in architecture, he was willing to play along. When we first got into the cathedral, I was immediately reminded that this was not just another tourist attraction. There were, of course, people praying in there. So we quietly went to a middle pew where we could get a good look at everything without being too disruptive. I was almost giddy to realize that the picture that DeMille had painted in my head was so accurate that I could vividly see the characters moving around the place just as the book had described.

I've never re-read the book, nor have I ever read any other DeMille, but I still have the book. Because much as I have always loved to read, as many books as I had already read by that point in my life, that was the first book that had ever really made me realize that a vivid setting can be just as important to a book as the characters set in it.

Thanks to Alyce of At Home With Books for hosting My Favorite Reads.


  1. ahh... St Pat's! This was my family's meeting place (before cell phones). If we were ever seperated, head to St. Pats!

  2. Ive heard of the author but never have paid attention to what he's actually written. Sounds like a good read!

  3. I've always really liked DeMille. I don't remember reading Cathedral, though. Sounds good.

  4. I'm so glad to see that you like this books so much! I picked it up at a used book sale a few months ago on the off chance that it might be good. I can see that I will have to set this aside for a rainy day when I need a good non-review copy read.

    I also like it when I visit a place that I have read about and find that it fits with my expectations. I've found that I read a lot more books about a place once I've been there too.

  5. What's funny is that I don't even remember now if the book was well-written but DeMille sure kept the tension for me and did a bang up job of explaining what the place looked like.

  6. It's so nice to have a good memory of reading a book. A very enjoyable post.

  7. I love when an author can so vividly describe a place or event that you feel you are a part of it. It's these type of books that suck me in and make it them hard to forget.