The Treasure of Sainte Foy

by MacDonald Harris. New York: Atheneum Publishers, 1980. Also London, Victor Gollandz Ltd., 1980.

From the Jacket:

Like Graham Greene and Mary McCarthy before him, MacDonald Harris has written a thriller. And like them, he brings to his story the alchemical talent of a first-class novelist: The Treasure of Sainte Foy is not only gripping, but also transcendent.

In the picturesque, isolated French village of Conques stands the Abbey of Sainte Foy. The church houses a priceless medieval treausre whose centerpiece is a magnificent, three-fot-high statue of the holy martyr Sainte Foy, bejewelled and covered with gold, its strange alabaster eyes gazing ahead as if at a nearby invisible world.

To a small group of political terrorists in Toulouse, the Treausre is an irresistible target. Working with them is Patrick, a disaffected American art historian, who recruits into the band Marie-Ange, the guide to the church. We see their methodical preparations for the robbery, the growing attraction between Patrick and Marie-Ange, the implacable pursuit of the police--all cool, dramatic, and passionate as a Bogart film. But we also sense the mysterious underworld of the Languedoc, a region of heretics and saints, criminals and martyrs; the stakes of the novel subtly change and ramify; we are caught up in a gorgeous and mystical endgame as the forces of retribution close in; we get the uncanny feeling that at play in the novel are forces unseen and unseeable.

What is really at play, of course, is the masterful hand of MacDonald Harris. A native Californian, Harris is best known for The Balloonist, nominated for the National Book Award and translated into half a dozen language, and Pandora's Galley, his mesmerizing tale of the last days of the Venetian Republic. (His five other novels are Private Demons, Mortal Leap, Yukiko, Bull Fire, and Trepleff). In The Treasure of Sainte Foy, Harris has written a novel that is spellbinding in every sense of the world.

Critical acclaim for The Treasure of Sainte Foy

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