This interesting historical tale of a religious recluse is surprisingly sensuous and thrilling. The anchoress is a religious recluse in medieval England, a 17 year old woman who willingly allows herself to be locked inside the church anchorhold. This is a stone cell attached to the church that has a squint for her to see out of, a small opening for food to come through, and a door that has been nailed shut. She will stay there in the dark until she dies, at which time she will be buried beneath the stone floor. There are rules she must live by – she must not see any man except her confessor, she cannot touch anyone, she must not store documents, or have a maid who sins – but rules are usually only dictated when there is a need for them, and this idea of transgression provided early inspiration for the author. Much careful research has been subtly written into the story. Happily, the language retains a contemporary feel, unlike some historical fiction which can be melodramatic and over written.
The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader