From National Book Award-winning writer James Carroll comes a novel of the timeless love story of Peter Abelard and Heloise, and its impact on a modern priest and a Holocaust survivor seeking sanctuary in Manhattan.

Father Michael Kavanagh is shocked when he sees a friend from his seminary days named Runner Malloy at the altar of his humble parish in upper Manhattan - a friend who was forced to leave under scandalous circumstances. Compelled to reconsider the past, Father Kavanagh wanders into the medieval haven of the Cloisters and stumbles into a conversation with a lovely and intriguing docent, Rachel Vedette.

Having survived the Holocaust and escaped to America, Rachel remains obsessed with her late father's greatest scholarly achievement: a study demonstrating the relationship between the famously discredited monk Peter Abelard and Jewish scholars. Feeling an odd connection with Father Kavanagh, Rachel shares with him the work that cost her father his life.

At the center of these interrelated stories is the classic romance between the great philosopher Abelard and his intellectual equal, Heloise. For Rachel, Abelard is the key to understanding her people's place in history. And for Father Kavanagh, the controversial theologian may be a doorway to understanding the life he himself might have had outside the church.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"This is a wonderful novel, and it's wonder-filled. James Carroll brings the XIIth century lovers, Abelard and Heloise, blazingly back to life, and he does so through the medium of a New York priest and a Parisian Jew. The present and the past illuminate each other, and the startling mysteries of prejudice, brutality, and love are made doubly vivid here. Like All the Light You Cannot See, The Cloister is a book of gravity and consequence that makes you need to turn and turn the page." - Nicholas Delbanco

"I didn’t know I needed this novel until I read it. As unflinching about the Holocaust as it is about the Crusades, The Cloister is a fearless exploration of the violent foundations on which our own historical inheritance rests. And like all the best fiction, it commandeers the reader’s heart." - Rachel Kadish

"James Carroll has written an enlightening, vitally important book, a necessity for our time." - Maxine Hong Kingston

"With his familiar deftness and depth, James Carroll weaves a profound and compelling novel from diverse but overlapping narrative strands. From the conversations between a Catholic priest and a French Jewish woman in mid-twentieth century New York to the brutality of Nazi-occupied Paris, to the great medieval love story of Abelard and Heloïse, The Cloister illuminates life's most vital questions, and proposes inspiring, radical, and timely answers." - Claire Messud


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Used availability for James Carroll's The Cloister

Hardback Editions

March 2018 : USA Hardback
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Title: The Cloister: A Novel
Author(s): James Carroll
ISBN: 0-385-54127-9 / 978-0-385-54127-5 (USA edition)
Publisher: Nan A. Talese
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


April 2018 : USA Library Binding
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Title: The Cloister (Wheeler Large Print Book)
Author(s): James Carroll
ISBN: 1-4328-5012-1 / 978-1-4328-5012-8 (USA edition)
Publisher: Wheeler Publishing Large Print
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Paperback Editions

January 2019 : USA Paperback
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Title: The Cloister
Author(s): James Carroll
ISBN: 1-101-97158-4 / 978-1-101-97158-1 (USA edition)
Publisher: Anchor
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Audio Editions

March 2018 : USA Audio edition
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Title: The Cloister: A Novel
Author(s): James Carroll
Publisher: Random House Audio
Availability: Amazon   


March 2018 : Canada Audio edition
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Title: The Cloister: A Novel
Author(s): James Carroll
Publisher: Random House Audio
Availability: Amazon CA   


March 2018 : UK Audio edition
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Title: The Cloister: A Novel
Author(s): James Carroll
Publisher: Random House Audio
Availability: Amazon UK   


Kindle Editions

March 2018 : USA, Australia, Canada, UK Kindle edition
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Title: The Cloister: A Novel
Author(s): James Carroll
Publisher: Anchor
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU