LeAnne's Reviews > A Darkly Hidden Truth

A Darkly Hidden Truth by Donna Fletcher Crow
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Feb 16, 2016

really liked it
bookshelves: adult-fiction, faith, mystery-thriller, family-dysfunction, medieval, mystery, england
Read in May, 2012

Julian of Norwich must have had a mother, and so does our heroine Felicity. Julians mother may have mourned when her daughter shut herself away in a fourteenth-century anchorage, never to emerge. Felicitys mother couldnt care less if Felicity becomes a nun. She was never there when Felicity was a child. Why should she care now? At least, that is what her impulsive daughter thinks until her American mother shows up in England where Felicity is in theological college. There Cynthia goes all maternal on her.

Her mothers arrival couldnt be more inconvenient right when the icon of Our Lady of Transfiguration has disappeared from the monastery where the college is located and Felicity is taking off on a tour of discernment to explore convents and the call God may have on her life. Of course the latter is complicated by her feelings for Antony, the church history professor with whom she solved the first Monastery Murder.

Donna Fletcher Crow explores the mother-daughter relationship and the various shapes a call from God can take even as her characters search for the missing icon and the murderer of one of Felicitys colleagues at school. The strength of Crows books is her feeling for place and her grasp of church history and the people who made it happen. Antony is a great storyteller. Through him, Crow makes not only Julian of Norwich come alive, but also Margery Kempe, who visited Julians anchorage in Julians old age.

Felicity is debating between becoming a nun and acknowledging her love for Antony. Julian was a virgin shut away from the world. Margery was a married woman with fourteen kids. (Crow tries hard to keep her from coming across as a madwoman with her ecstatic prayers and fits of weeping.) Is marriage and family as much a call from God as a nunnery?

Crows other strength is revealing the beauties and meaningfulness of high-church ritual to those of us who were raised decidedly low-church. I was fascinated by her account of the profound services surrounding Easter as they re-enact the final week of Jesus earthly life. I hinted at such ritual in my 16th century novel, Glastonbury Tor, but A Darkly Hidden Truth is 21st century. Wow! Crow made me want to experience it for myself.

This book wont be for everyone. The mystery is somewhat derivative of Dan Brown. But Anglophiles, history enthusiasts and lovers of strong women will eat it up.

[I received a review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.]
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