Book Review: The 50 Greatest Churches and Cathedrals of the World, by Sue Dobson

An easy to read and informative look at the history and architecture of churches and cathedrals around the world.

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An easy to read and very informative book, Sue Dobson shows her passion for the architecture and history of her chosen 50 churches and cathedrals. Not happy to revel in the beauty and awe of just European structures she has, as the title suggests, included entries from England, Ireland Scotland and Wales in the first chapter of The United Kingdom and Ireland, 19 countries in the Europe chapter (which also includes Russia and Australia), with other chapters on Africa, North America and South America.

She writes of the history surrounding the buildings and their place in today’s society, including, in places, the purported visions of the creators complimented by personal emotive language showing her feelings towards the stories she shares. Each church and cathedral has a photograph to illustrate some feature being described. I found it a great disappointment that none of these plates was in colour as the descriptions of the buildings themselves are elaborate and detailed, some coloured examples would have increased the appeal of the mind-images being created.

This is not a run of the mill, tourist description and tour book. It tells of little-known aspects of each building, and its charming and welcoming language invites you to come and explore, not only the site but the surrounding areas. The writing style allows the reader to feel at home and at ease with the sometimes-complicated history being explained. The reader finds themselves turning pages to see what titbit of information comes next and if this will be the page that contains the picture.

At 248 pages long, the initial list of buildings included allow for the reader to simply read through the book, or pick and chose which church or cathedral takes their interest. The final note-taking pages are useful for anyone researching for a trip, or indeed would be very handy should the reader be visiting these places.

A very pleasant read for anyone interested in the architecture and history of churches and cathedrals, or just someone looking for places to visit on a world tour.

Reviewed by  Leanne Caune

Rating out of 10:  8

Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: December 2017
RRP: $22.99

Disclaimer: Cover image of St Patrick’s Cathedral is not from this book.

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