Do I Want To Read…? A Ken Follett Special

Ok two posts in a day when I am on a mini break is a bit nuts but this is because I have an urgent book related question for you in a mini special ‘Do I Want To Read?’ So I am sat at home with a free day and a dilemma. I am having a lazy day of catch up on demand TV and I am in two minds about watching an adaptation of a book which I have never thought that I might want to read… until now. The adaptation in question, and there for the book is ‘The Pillars of The Earth’ by Ken Follett.

There is one main reason that I want to watch it and that is because it has one of my all time favourite actresses, oh sorry actors Sarah Parish in it, who I adore in every single thing that she adores (Hearts & Bones, Cutting It, Mistresses, I could go on and on) who is looking particularly menacing and fabulous in the promo shoots that I have seen…

I missed it over the weekend here in the UK (ahs it been on in America already?) and so thought ‘ooh, I will settle down and watch this double bill opening show’ but then I thought ‘ooh, maybe I should read the book first’. So I went off and had a look on the internet to find out more about it, before seeing if the library might have it, and discovered its 1100 pages long!!!! Now I actually fancy a book that I can get myself completely lost in (I haven’t discovered a comfy read I mentioned earlier yet) but I am a little pensive and the blurb makes me want to read it and not read it all at once…

“The Pillars of the Earth” tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known; of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect – a man divided in his soul; of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame; and of a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother. A spellbinding epic tale of ambition, anarchy, and absolute power set against the sprawling medieval canvas of twelfth-century England, this is Ken Follett’s historical masterpiece.”  

The reviews of the book seemed mixed and so I thought that I would throw it over to you as you guys are great with recommendations and may know if this is my cup of tea or not. So is it worth me trying to get it from the library (hopefully they don’t have the awful new TV cover, I don’t like them)? Will I get completely lost in it? Is it better I just stick to the TV series for an escape and not worry about the book, or should I try the TV show and see if that leads me to wanting to read the whole thing? Let me know I’m off to catch up with some other telly treats in the mean time.

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Do I Want To Read…? A Ken Follett Special

  1. gaskella

    I read the book many years ago, and remember devouring it. It was readable and fun I thought back then.

    The TV series this weekend was dire, but strangely gripping… mostly due to Rufus Sewell’s cheekbones I think! Watch at your peril.

  2. I did watch this show over the weekend although I have not read the book but had just vaguely heard of it, so may be I’m not best qualifed to answer your question. At the last minute I tuned in because the draw of Matthew Macfadyen AND Rufus Sewell was too much 😀

    I was hoping that if I enjoyed the adaptation I might have more enthusiasm to read the book.

  3. I too read this years ago and really enjoyed it. I’m not sure if I’m liking the adaptation all that much, although Rufus Sewell certainly helps! However, it’s a great story so of course I’ll be watching it until the end. It’s got a fantastic cast. I have the sequel ‘World Without End’ on my TBR which I’m really wanting to read now!

  4. I’ve had the exact same dilemma! I watched the first episode of the TV series and really enjoyed it (note to self, must get hold of the other episodes!), but I happened to get into a conversation about the book and my friends all said that the book is far better than the programme. They also had trepidation about how many pages the book contains, but said that it was a real page turner.

    So, I’m eventually going to get a copy of ‘Pillars of the Earth’ and I would suggest that you give it a go also. The added bonus for you is, that if you find that you can’t get into the novel, you can take it back to the library!

  5. LizF

    I have had the book for years but failed to find the right time to read it.
    Not sure that now is exactly right either, bearing in mind that I have never had less reading time than at the moment but I have fished out my copy and am going to make a start.
    The TV series is certainly gripping!
    Loving the divine Mr Sewell, who seems to get better with age – but is the fact that Ian McShane looks like a malevolent goblin down to dodgy hair and make-up or hard living?

  6. it is such a huge tome simon ,that has put me off a bit also not really my type of book ,all the best stu

  7. I can’t say either way because I’ve not read it or seen the adaptation but Sarah Parish in such a genre is something I can’t imagine (though I like her). For that I’d be interested in watching it!

  8. I read the book about 18 months ago and loved it. It’s a proper epic spanning decades of politics and intrigue, both at a country level and a family level. A great mix of human interest and history. I recommend it. I haven’t watched the adaptation – but I might!

  9. I read this book back when I spent 6 weeks on a job in England. It is, and forever will be, on my top ten books ever. Maybe it was because I was reading it while I was meandering through all these small towns with big beautiful churches, I don’t know. But it captured my heart and imagination, and believe it or not, I didn’t want it to end!!! A few years ago, I listened to the sequel World Without End on audio, and loved that too, but it couldn’t take the place of Pillars. I’ve been very afraid to watch an adaptation…I don’t think anything could match the writing.

  10. I read this book years ago and loved it. I just couldn’t put it down. Of course, it’s not great literature but it was absorbing and riveting and couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next. I’m currently watching the mini-series and it’s fabulous so far!
    I would avoid the second book though, World Without End. I didn’t finish that one and thought it was a rehash of the first.

  11. Dot

    Well my lovely husband has read the book and we watched the programme at the weekend and he thought that the programme was much better, he said the beginning of the book was too long-winded, too much setting up of characters etc. I have to say that Sarah Parish is wonderful in this, I couldn’t imagine her playing such a sinister character, she’s brilliant!

  12. Read the book, absolbloomingutely loved it! Although it’s a whopper the pages whizz by so I would recommend you read it….as for the TV adaptation..OK if you don’t compare it too closely to the book…and I thought Sarah Parish’s portrayal a bit pantomime dame-ish…but overall worth watching.

  13. Yes, you definitely want to read this one. I have watched the first couple segments (yes, it’s been out here in the U.S. for a couple months), and while it’s very good, the book is probably better. It’s actually quite a fast read. I don’t think that there’d be too much problem with starting it and watching the first bits of the mini-series at the same time.

  14. Read the book!
    I first read it when it first came out at least 15 years ago and enjoyed it tremendously then, though no one else seemed to be reading it, probably because of its heft and it is not a typical Follet book. I recommended it for our book group last year and we made it our read for summer (we don’t meet then) to discuss in September. I enjoyed it the second time as well, in fact, even more, and thankfully the group forgave me for putting them through 1,000+ pages. A few saw the series (it has already played here) and they thought it was good, but, the book better.
    Read the book!

  15. I haven’t read and don’t know if I will ever read the book due to its size and mixed reviews. However, as the comments above mention Rufus Sewell is in the adaptation, I will be surely watching it. Also, I loved Sarah Parish in the Shakespeare Retold version of Much Ado About Nothing.

  16. I attempted to read this book a couple of years ago and couldn’t get past the first 100 pages!!! From what I remember of the book it was way too wordy and descriptive for me.

  17. Thanks for all the comments… looks like I might need to give this book a whirl.

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