Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Passion of Dolssa

Berry, Julie (Author)
Penguin Random House 2016. 482 pages
First published: 2016
ISBN: 9780451469922 (hardcover)
9780147512963 (paperback)
9780698157477 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Historical

Text Elements:

characterization, point of view

Award

Michael L. Printz Honor Book – 2017

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

The deeply researched world of this novel, set in southern France in the late 1200s, offers a fascinating account of the grinding oppression of power, as well as the creative responses of those who would try to escape it. A range of strong female protagonists are depicted, through the smart and striving peasant Botille, her equally resourceful sisters and the unworldly but determined young noblewoman Dolssa, who they attempt to hide from inquisitors of the Catholic Church.

Masterful language conveys rich description: “They were the only glass windows in all of Bajas … light rippled and fanned through them … piercing the dusty gloom of the church, making each airborne mote like a star.” Throughout the novel, Botille’s voice rings with insight and wit: “With someone less handsome I might have grown annoyed, but attractive people are easier to forgive.”

The multifaceted plot includes a priest’s obsessive pursuit, Dolssa’s healing miracles, a mad dash from the inquisitors’ flames and matchmaker Botille’s own unorthodox romance romance with Symo, “the surliest, most uncooperative pig I’d met in a long history of meeting pigs.” In the end, the crushing power of the Church will not be denied. But through Dolssa’s relationship with her “Jhesus” and love of family and friends, goodness shines through—like airborne motes in a ray of light.

  •  

    First-person accounts and the alternate voices of Dolssa and Botille are combined with third-person accounts of events. Readers need to make internal connections between the different voices and consider the types of information each one provides.

  •  In a reading group, periodically discuss the sources of conflict that are the result of social mores of the era. Consider how the era impacts the choices presented to each of the characters.
  •  The text lends itself to being used to study the conventions of historical fiction through literature circle discussions and genre study. Information gathered may be used to inform future narrative text production.
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Social Sciences