A book about a bunch of old dudes sitting around and choosing the next Pope. Sorry, a THRILLER about choosing a Pope. What?? I was glad this was chosen for book club because I couldn’t see how this book could possibly be as good as everyone said it was.
I ended up really enjoying Conclave. It makes a nice change to have elderly people as the all the main characters. I wasn’t so enamoured about the dude level of this story, but I can forgive it because at least there was a clear reason for it! The youngest cardinal in the conclave is a sprightly 62, and all the reeeaaalllly old ones (over 80 years old) are not allowed in to vote.
I liked how the ‘action’ was centred around these old dudes and them having meals, then being shuffled off the the Sistine Chapel for a round of voting or two, then back for a meal, then a bit more voting, then another meal, and to bed! There were some events that happened in the outside world, but it barely affects our conclave of elderly cardinals.
Having said all that, there builds a real anticipation over events. I almost cried when the next Pope was chosen. As if! Me, a committed atheist, almost moved to tears by a fictional Pope being decided on. Craziness. And of course none of the events are going to be as straightforward as they could be, even if a few things were a little predictable, not everything was.
I’ve also learned more than I could possible want to know about the choosing of a Pope. I ended up on a Wikipedia adventure after the Pope who exploded is mentioned. And I now know more than I could ever want to know about Cardinal clothes.