Conclave is the eleventh novel by the British writer Robert Harris. The book was released in October 2016 and I finally read it.
The book is obviously a
thriller and the story turns all to a conclave. 2018 (therefore future compared to the drafting), the Pope is dead, the Seat is vacant. From all over the world, there are about one hundred and seventeenth cardinals who, together with the camerlengo (the one hundred and eighteenth), will have to choose the new Pope.
I found this book very interesting and intriguing. The thriller atmosphere is there, it’s a real political thriller, a genre that is very dear to Harris. Harris tells us not just a nice story and well written, but deals with important political issues through one of the oldest and most powerful societies of our time, or the Church.
The predominant themes of the novel are ambition and the rise to power. Everyone wants to become Pope, but perhaps nobody is truly worthy of it. The Church is made up of men, as such, all have erred, someone more than others and more seriously. So, as we are often told in the novel, the Conclave is ultimately based on choosing not the best alternative, as well as the one suggested by God, but the least worst. In these times more than ever. The Church is weaker than before, and has its eyes on sexual scandals and then there is the issue of homosexuality, where everyone seems to have a different opinion. Clerics can not help but think about this, so they must always choose the one that will give the best image to the world. Many people want an Italian Pope, some the first black Pope, others themselves, but then they will all be called to choose between the main candidates, among those most loved, and not the most deserving ones. Harris paints the political nature of the Conclave in a perfect way and also gives a precise image of the Church, criticizing it too, but not in a way that is intended. A good criticism, but not continuous. Do not take this book in your own hands thinking that it is a criticism of the Church. There is, but it is not the main thing.
There are many twists, especially in the final, that I loved. A happy ending, so to speak, in a very funny and almost provocative way towards the Church. Perhaps a way to say: “Wake up”.
Summarizing, yes, I recommend this book. It is not very long and is easy to read. Entertains, but in the end also a lot to think about.
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