"I find the admission astounding in view of the typical American's literacy"
There was so much hype over this book, as though it was one that must be read as one of the best classics of all time....I got swept up into the praise. You are right, many people don't read today, and it's a shame because you can't get the detail in movies that you get from books. I think books really have a way of sharpening your intellect because Author's pour the best of their heart and soul in their work.
"To me the feeling came on much earlier"
Oh me too. I was dragging my feet through the parts that had nothing to do with that actual story. Then I just snapped, could not take it anymore. There was 50 pages of story, and then 50 pages of total diversion. I looked ahead, and saw this process repeats. I have a problem with skipping any words, so I can't read the book unless I read it all. Glad to see you felt the same, I'm sure many others did too, but that would have been bad publicity for sales.
"Thanks much Vic for that rundown; so I shall read it again knowing this, maybe understand it. However, whom did they think they were encrypting"
The funeral people really thought it was Reverend Mother. I think, only a few of the higher up nuns knew the truth. They needed the old guy (forgot his name) in the garden's help, so they told him everything. He told Jean because it was the best way to sneak him out, and then bring him back in officially.
The people at the graveyard also thought it truly was Reverend Mother in the casket, but it was Jean. That is why they had to get rid of that new gravedigger so Jean could jump out unseen by only the old guy (Flaucelvent? maybe), and the plot would be buried so nobody would ever think to check or question if the Coffin is empty.
The nuns however, had no idea Jean was in the coffin. They thought the old garden keeper was filling it with dirt. It was a series of lies and secrets because so many people had to be kept from a certain variable of truth in order to achieve everything they wanted. In the end, it all worked out because Jean came back in officially, the funeral people thought Reverend Mother was buried in the cemetery, and the Nuns had fulfilled Reverend Mothers death wish of her body being placed in that sacred Prayer Room.