Top positive review
11 people found this helpful
on 17 June 2012
Sylvia Townsend Warner has seemed to have fallen into neglect over the past years, and this is undeservedly so. Her novels and short stories have always been admired by those in the know as they are so well written. There are probably a number of reasons why she has been forgotten and one could lay with this book. The main body of the book takes place between 1349-1382 and has a whole host of characters, indeed there isn't one overall character that stands out from the rest as such, although untrue to a lesser degree. This in an historical novel (which weren't that popular when this was first written) and this style of writing has possibly discouraged some readers.
In the first chapter we find out how a convent is formed and then we are taken to it being established and an idea of a spire being added to the church. This is more about the community of the convent than individuals and whilst we start off with an outbreak of plague only certain major events in the period this covers seems to be ever known by the nuns. The convent, set in the Fens in Norfolk is to a degree isolated and most information and gossip they receive are from travellers, and religious visitors. As with any community the nuns have their own ambitions and foibles. With a murder, a priest who isn't and other events this is a book that you can really get into.
There is quite a bit of humour here, especially with all the rumours that appear over things that happen in the area. One thing happens and different people seem to know all about it, although what they say is highly elaborated and tall tales are common. People leave and die, and others arrive, and this with only certain events filtering through to the nuns from the outside world give this particular tale a feeling of timelessness. This may not be something that you would normally read, but if you decide to get this, once you have started it is hard to put down.