An intricate tale, this book alternates in almost kafkaesque style between a 12th century Arthurian tale and the modern search by the heroine Ellie and her boyfriend Doug for the elusive Holy Grail.

Headhunted from doctoral studies at Oxford, Ellie goes to work for the ancient, mysterious,  London-based Monsalvat Bank.   Everything is provided for her; top class accommodation, a massive salary, the ultimate in mobile phones and laptops –  everything a girl could wish for –  but before long Ellie is drawn into intrigue, scandal and the immoral world of her boss Blanchard.  She finds her whole life is scrutinised and controlled by the bank, Blanchard and his security sidekick.  Finally Ellie finds the elusive sixth floor vault and discovers a link with the contents of the vault and her own family history.   The consequent chase through much of Europe is as much a part of the fantasy of this tale as the interwoven mediaeval tale, the speed of both become breath taking and nail biting towards the end.

I did not enjoy the alternating stories, finding them quite disorientating (possibly because of my inherent dislike of Arthurian legends) and mostly had to quell my desire to skip those sections and read on to find out what happened to Ellie  and various other nefarious characters.   But, I did like the tender touch that brought the story of Ellie and Doug to a satisfactory conclusion.

Tom Harper has other books which will be added to my To Be Read list in the future


Book Number 1 – 2012

On the opposite side of the globe from Venice, where most of the action in this book takes place, Lucy hears the cello playing of Maestro Fortuny and begins her connection with the hero of the story.   Possibly it would be more accurate to say her obsession as she collects newspaper clippings, magazine articles and photos for her scrapbook; she purchases an LP record merely for the photograph of Fortuny on the cover; she pores over maps and guide books of Venice until she knows the city intimately without ever having visited.   But above all she learns the cello and learns to play it well.   Well enough to enter the conservatorium in Venice and to finally meet Fortuny.   From there the unlikely relationship is conceived, grows and eventually matures to an even more unlikely denouement.

I found the whole premise highly preposterous and had it not been for the authors notes at the end of the book where he detailed the chance conversation which had seeded the story, I would have remained disbelieving.


Over forty years ago I joined my local library and the amazing Mrs Colclough gave me some wonderful advice.   She suggested that I read a variety of books: travel, biography, fiction, non-fiction etc   Over the intervening years I have remembered this advice and tried to follow it.  

During the past year I have on two occasions, borrowed books from the library only to find that I had already read them.   So in 2012 I intend to keep a blog, listing my reading history, and will also endeavour to do a ‘mini-review’  for my own reminder!

Today at the local branch of the library I stocked up on reading for the New Year long weekend.

Back in the New Year