Charmaine Craig received her B.A. from Harvard and an MFA in writing from the University of California at Irvine. Also an actress, she starred in a film from Walt Disney Studios. She lives in Laguna Beach, California. The Good Men is her first novel.
Tried by the Inquisition in 1320, Grazida Lizier left testimony that serves as the basis for Craig's first novel. Foreign rights have already been sold to five countries, and the publisher has great expectations for this book. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Chronicling the uncertainties and ethical crises of a village rector in early 14th-century France who struggles as much with his bodily yearnings as with his spiritual needs, this heady novel draws on depositions given during the French Inquisition to fictionalize the strange story of the Cathars, a Christian sect of medieval southern France. When the Cathars, or the Good Men, as they are known, enter rector Pierre Clergue's village of Montaillou, professing Satan's creation of all things mortal and preaching the renunciation of the flesh, Clergue, who has suffered mentally and physically from degenerative hip disease since age 11, is drawn to their teachings. In particular, he is strengthened by their determination to renounce women. And yet, like his masters, his renunciation of the flesh makes human communion even more tempting, and he finds he cannot help surrendering to his desire for Grazida Lizier, the 15-year-old daughter of his brother's bastard child. Although Craig relies a bit too heavily on biblical allusions to get her point across an inquisitor, Bernard, is left, like Moses, as a babe "planted among the reeds" her use of alternate vantage points creates a believable, poignant story based on themes of religious conviction and spiritual crisis. Her splendid use of imagery and fully fleshed out characters add depth to the novel, as do period details. The density of the material means the book will be best appreciated by those with some knowledge of the period, but resolute general readers will be helped along by several sharp and satisfying plot twists. Foreign rights sold in Denmark, Finland, France, Holland, Italy. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"The Roman Catholic Church kept transcripts of these inquisitional processes, providing an intimate, almost voyeuristic window into the affairs of men and women who lived seven centuries ago. These documents continue to fascinate...they provide inspiration for an ambitious first novel, The Good Men, by Charmaine Craig."--The New York Times Book Review "As a writer, she's the real deal...The action takes place in Montaillou, a tiny mountain village that is falling under the influence of saintly wanderers known as the Good Men who preach that the world was created by the devil and should be despised. The narrative, which is based on historical sources, unfolds from several points of view: those of an alcoholic widow, a lustful village priest, a cobbler struggling with his homosexuality, a conflicted Inquisitor. Craig has the gift of finding complexity in simple people, and she tells their stories in fluid, shapely prose that blends mysteries both religious and erotic with the...realities of peasant life."--Time "I have never read so powerful an account, fictive or historical, of the Cathar rebels against the Roman Catholic Church. Craig's vision encompasses an entire culture, which was forever destroyed."--Harold Bloom "A rich tale of the struggle between spiritual thirst and bodily hunger... Craig deserves critical acclaim...for creating a novel that is not only highly readable, but one that forces her audience to squirm in the face of historical tragedy--and squirm we should."--Fort Worth Star-Telegram "Craig's stunning first novel is redolent with time and place...absorbing."--Los Angeles Times "The Good Men is an authentic novel of heresy. The book is beautifully composed and darkly memorable...powerful."--Harold Bloom, author of The Western Canon and Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human "Grazida Lizier is a true heroine...There is something noble about the author's full-fledged fictional re-creation of a woman who certainly deserves to be restored to history. Grazida belongs to the luminous minority of those who, absent formal education and in the darkest of ages, nevertheless insist on thinking for themselves."--New York Newsday "In her admirable novel, The Good Men, Charmaine Craig transports her readers to medieval France and the dark labyrinths of heresy. She offers no easy answers to the questions of faith and persecution but rather shows us passionate characters struggling with their own desires and dilemmas. This is a memorable and absorbing debut."--Margot Livesey "As a writer, she's the real deal...When the Inquisition descends on Montaillou, Craig credibly and creditably allots all sides--heretics, informers, even torturers--a measure of sympathy. She demonstrates powerfully that even those who escape the rack, by good luck or God's grace, can end up being broken by life in other ways."--Time Magazine "There is much to admire in The Good Men, especially its deft juggling of complex intersecting story lines."--The New York Times Book Review "In her sensual imagining of the physical as well as the inner life of Grazida Lizier, Charmaine Craig has achieved a bold resurrection from the fourteenth century. She dramatizes the personal and catastrophic consequences of the calculated application of the machinery and cold passion of bureaucratic belief, the Inquisition's attack on inquiry, the muting of a questioner's voice. Lucky for fiction, Craig's own voice is alive and well, knowing and musical."--Geoffrey Wolff "A fascinating story. It asks questions which are as relevant today as they were in the 14th century. Questions of sex and relationships, of religious faith, of women's role in society all form the substance of this interesting and unusual novel."--Edmonton Journal "Gripping... Craig skillfully blends universal themes--piety, lust, guilt, love, shame, obedience, hate--with hard, hateful elements of history."--Fort Worth Star-Telegram "The struggle between the sins of the flesh and the transcendence of the spirit is the subject of this fictional account of the Inquisition...History is what makes The Good Men worth reading for its portrayal of a pivotal period in the life of southern France."--The Philadelphia Inquirer "[An] elegant, richly detailed historical novel...[Craig] populates her book with an epic cast of characters, all of them yearning for salvation while trying t