Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Ken Follett and World Without End

Oprah has just chosen the predecessor to this book, Pillars of the Earth, as her monthly book club choice. I am so glad! Ken Follett and I have a very mixed relationship; I used to think he was brilliant, and then he wrote one book that just disgusted me so much I stopped reading him altogether until he wrote Pillars of the Earth, which has to do with the building of the very first cathedrals in Europe. It was one of those books that you hated to have it end, and you remember years later.


World Without End follows up Pillars of the Earth. We follow the lives of several people we meet as they are children, and we discover that their lives are intertwined in intricate ways. Two of the characters, Caris and Merthin, love one another from childhood, and we wonder throughout the book if they will ever find a way to be together. Merthin is a builder, descending from the main character of Pillars of the Earth, and shares his way of being able to look at problems from a new perspective and build in new ways based on stepping outside the box to solve problems.

Ken Follett is good at describing the lives of his characters in the 1300s, as farmers try to survive the rainy summers and crop damage, as laborors become independant from the abuses of feudal overlords, as the plague strikes rich and poor alike, as spiritual leaders cope with the demands of daily life and needs. We learn about the living conditions in England in the 1300’s, we learn about the early trade guilds and merchant guilds, we learn how disasters can be an impetus for social and political change, we learn how women used what little control they had over their own lives to their advantage. World Without End is a book rich in texture, sensually layered and visually vivid.

I have a strong feeling that people are pretty much people, and that we haven’t changed too much over the centuries. We HAVE made some advances, we have carved out rule of law, and ways for communities and nations to function together in relative peace, but I still feel that some of the interactions between men and women have a feeling that is too modern. I could be wrong. A few of the the scenes just didn’t ring true to me; it was as if modern people were transposed back to the 1300’s and thinking in modern ways, and it just seemed . . . well, I guess anachronistic!

November 19, 2007 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Books, Community, Cross Cultural, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Relationships, Social Issues, Women's Issues | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment