Foucault’s Pendulum, by Umberto Eco
The first chapter could be used as a final exam in a Western Civilization class. Eco is an astonishingly literate man. I read about a third of the book; the plot was slow-moving and the characters artificial, but Eco’s fascinating prose kept me interested longer than the story did.
I get the impression this is the book that inspired Dan Brown’s vastly inferior The DaVinci Code.
My bottom line: I’d rather have Eco as a guest than as an author.