Pillars Of The Earth Ken Follett Talk

Jan Leeming

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PILLARS OF THE EARTH - Ken Follett talk

Date: 26th March 2014

I love history and good historical novels and purchased and avidly read Pillars of the Earth when it was first published in 1989. I thoroughly enjoyed it but, as it was a very large volume, must have left it on the shelf in our holiday home at Alleins in Provence (sadly long gone along with the marriage).

Waterstones stage periodic talks by authors most of which are held in the upstairs café at their premises in Canterbury. From time to time, if they think they will get a large crowd, they change the venue and the price. John Guy’s talk on Becket was given in the Nave of Canterbury Cathedral. Recently they advertised that Follett would be talking about Pillars of the Earth to be staged in the Eastern Crypt of the Cathedral.

I had to purchase a copy of the book and read the story again with great interest. Sadly the talk fell well below my expectations and not only mine because I discussed it with other members of the audience. The normal price for a Waterstone’s talk is around £5 but for Follett it was £10 – and not worth it.

Pillars is so different from most of Follett’s other titles. So in the Q & A I asked politely if he thought he might have been at all influenced by a similar but much smaller book part of a trilogy written in the 60’s by Edith Pargeter – The Heaven Tree was about the building of a cathedral in France by an English man. (Pargeter also wrote as Ellis Peters author of the highly successful Cadfael stories). I wasn’t for a moment suggesting plagiarism – the stories are very different but the theme is the same. Even Louis de Bernières thought he might have been influenced subliminally by Kahlil Gibran’s poem on Marriage when he, Bernières wrote his beautiful words on Love in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.


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