June 4, 2013

Joy despite suffering

A Company of Fools
by Deborah Ellis

A Company of Fools is vividly narrated by a young choirboy at the Abbey of St. Luc, near Paris. Quiet and sickly, Henri has lived with the monks ever since he was orphaned at five years old. Into his orderly life comes Micah, a rough street urchin who sings like an angel. He and Henri become unlikely friends. Micah pulls Henri out of his shell, getting him into all manner of amusing and boyish scrapes. 

When the plague sweeps across France, the boys find themselves performing in St. Luc's "Company of Fools", which bring laughter to the sick and, however briefly, releases them from pain and suffering. But when the crowds of Paris become convinced that Micah is a saviour whose singing can cure the Black Death, even the sheltered world of the abbey begins to crumble.

Ellis paints a vivid picture of life in a French monastery, illuminating the world of monks, both good and bad. A thoughtful, compassionate book.

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