• France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • The Netherlands
  • Spain
  • Brazil

Gentle reader

Here you will find selected letters you have written (earlier ones over the years are here), and a quick quiz.

You can follow other conversations on Twitter and Facebook.

You wrote…

I received these letters recently, and thought you would enjoy them as much as I did…

From: Karthikeyan Subramaniam
Sent: Tuesday 20 February, 2007

Dear Ken
I really enjoy reading your every book. I read the introduction on your next novel, ‘World Without End’. I have a question about that. How could Tom Builder have direct descendants when his three children, Alfred, Martha, and Jonathan couldn’t have borne any children? Please clarify this if you have time.

Thanks and regards,

From: Ken Follet
Sent: Thursday 22 February, 2007

Dear Karthz
Why do you think Martha could not have had children? Answer me quickly, please, because I’ve almost finished the book!

Best regards

From: Karthikeyan
Sent: Friday 23 February 2007

Dear Ken
I am very glad to receive your reply. I appreciate your response amidst your busy schedule. I think that Martha couldn’t have had children for the following reasons

  • Martha wasn’t married till the end of ‘The Pillars of the Earth’.
  • She was more than 50 years when the book came to an end.
  • Her step-brother Jack tried persuading her into marriage, but she refused that till the end of the book.
  • She never got married even after Jack and Aliena had grandsons.

Because of the above reasons, I assumed that there could be no ‘direct’ descendants of Tom Builder. Also, he never had a child with Ellen. Alfred died without bearing any child. Jonathan was a priest, and hence couldn’t have married.

Martha was one of my favorite characters, and I really worried that you didn’t bother to write about her at the end of the book. I had no idea of what happened to her at the end. Even in the chapter when the Cathedral was opened, there was no mention of Martha.

Anyway, I would be happy to know that you had a happy ending for the little girl who never lived for herself, and had always dedicated her life to the others (to her step-brother and his children).


From: Ken
Sent: Wednesday 28 February, 2007

Dear Karthz
Thanks very much for this. I did receive it immediately, but I have been working on my reply while finishing the rewrite.

In Chapter One of ‘Pillars’, which takes place in 1135, Martha is seven years old. The last time she appears in the book is at the wedding of Jack and Aliena, in Chapter Sixteen, which takes place in 1155, so she must be 27. She is mentioned later in the book, especially when characters are recalling the events of 1135, but nothing is said about her romantic life. It is hinted that she may harbour a secret love for Jack, who is of course her stepbrother. So I think we may imagine that, after the wedding, she may at last have fallen in love with someone and had children in her late twenties or thirties.

I realize it would be better if this was actually stated in ‘Pillars’, but it is too late for that! I believe there’s nothing in the original book to contradict this. But your recollection may be better than mine, so please let me know if you disagree.

Thanks very much for your help…

From: Karthikeyan
Sent: Wednesday 28 February, 2007

Dear Ken,
I agree with you that nothing has been stated in ‘Pillars’ that contradicts the fact that Martha could have been married and have borne children.

Thank you so much for considering my query, and taking pains in answering it. I am looking forward to reading ‘World Without End’.


I look forward to your letters. Please write to me via the Contact page, and do see earlier letters

If you’ve read several of my books, you might enjoy matching the first line with the title, or guessing the working title