BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Next she'll say he had no Katanas ...

While I've not read Dan Brown's “DaVinci Code” books, I've read many books from which the inspiration for those was drawn, as well as others discussing them and the subsequent movies. While much of this genre is certainly “odd”, Sangeet Duchane's Beyond the Da Vinci Code: From the Rose Line to the Bloodline stands out as a “huh?” book.

I frankly don't recall how I ended up with this in my collection (yes, I know, that's odd in and of itself!), but I suspect that I got it via a B&N sale, either in the store or on-line, but it is possible that this might have come from the dollar store at some point, The provenance of this is an interesting question, as it's a large-format hard-cover book printed on heavy gloss paper with hundreds of color illustrations, a real “deluxe” edition with an original cover price of a very minimal $15.95 … and you know I didn't pay that for it. What I wonder (and this almost gets into Dan Brown “conspiracy theory” zones) is who felt this book was worthy of this sort of presentation, and did it have a prayer of making any money at that price point?

To indulge further into the “conspiracy” realm, it's very hard to find any information about Sangeet Duchane herself, aside from a very brief author bio which says she was a lawyer who went back to school to get a Masters in Theology, and focused on “feminine spirituality”. She has several books out, but very little other info floating around about her.

The elements of the “sacred feminine” that are in the “DaVinci Code” books are obviously the point of contact which seems to have been the genesis of this book, but the book is odd in that it's neither “rooting for” nor specifically aimed at debunking Brown's work. It's as though the author took the opportunity of the popularity of those books and movies to step into the fray with her own message.

Honestly, I wasn't expecting as much debunking of Brown as there is in here. I'm guessing there's about a 5-to-1 ratio of her saying that Brown is baseless on some point to those which are agreeing with him. She's evidently rather disdainful of Brown's research and presentation over-all, yet utilizes the subjects that he raises to take a look at the realities there, generally spun to a “feminine spirituality” perspective.

Beyond the Da Vinci Code is in five parts: The Early Church, The Sacred Feminine, The Holy Grail, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Modern Times. In these she looks at assorted elements of myth, history, re-written history (the eradication of the feminine aspects in the Church, etc.), all the Baigent/Leigh/Lincoln (and related) material, and things that have developed over the centuries.

Again, the author, while on some level sympathetic with Brown's approach to “uncovering the misdeeds of the Church”, spends much of the book in a “well, it really wasn't like that” mode, showing how some things in the DVC books are impossible, some are misinterpreted, some are purely invention, and some are, frankly, simply the results of poor to non-existent research. What I probably found most frustrating here was that she didn't generally come back with a well-researched slam at the Church … most of these end up with some variant of “yes, these people are horrible, but not horrible in the way they're depicted by Brown”.

As such, the book floats off in a grey area … not supporting Brown, but being against the (documented) perversions of the Church, debunking much of what's in the DVC books, but not replacing it with her own broadsides … and I suspect that this would be a fairly frustrating read for anybody coming to it “with a dog in the fight” (of course, I can't speak for the “feminine spirituality” camp, perhaps this reads just great to them!), or even just an interest in Brown's vision.

As a former publisher, I'm somewhat amazed at the physical nature of the book, the big format, the extremely high-quality “art book” paper, the massive amount of full color illustration, and, as noted, the very low cover price (this could easily have been priced 3-4 times what it was). Somebody wanted this to go out with a splash … and get into a lot of hands.

Speaking of which … if this sounds like something you'd like to check out … it's available new in the big deluxe hardcover for (plus, of course the $3.99 shipping) from the new/used guys on Amazon. Amazing. While being “frustrating”, it's not a bad read, and it's an awesome looking book, so picking up a cheap copy might be something you'd want to consider!

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Tags: book review
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