Claustrophobic: The Anchoress

The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader

1255: Running from her grief, seventeen year old Sarah chooses to become an anchoress, a holy woman shut away in a small cell at the side of the village church. During her internment she begins to realise she cannot keep the outside world away and maybe her soul is still in danger.

First impressions: The title of this review says it all – I could feel the claustrophobia as Emma entered her cell in the opening pages. Great writing and a marvellous reading experience!

Highlights: Not only did I feel like I was in the cell with Emma throughout the novel, the author perfectly captures all the nuances of medieval village life. Much to my surprise there is much more to the story than just an secluded life in a cell. The life of an anchoress is quite era-specific and I became really interested in the story and finding out about this practice. Finally, I loved the ending. Perfectly fitting and not what I was expecting.

If I was an editor: I have to admit that as much as I loved the story, I did find it a bit slow in places, particularly the religious discussions.

Overall: A peculiar medieval tradition brought to life.

The Anchoress: 3 stars



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