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The Apostate's Tale

(Sister Frevisse #17)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  677 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
As the nuns of St. Frideswide's priory prepare for the welcome end of Lent, their peaceful expectations are overset by the sudden return of long- vanished Sister Cecely. Nine years ago she fled from the nunnery with a man. Now her lover is dead and she has come back, bringing her illegitimate son with her. She claims she is penitent, that she wants only to redeem her sin a ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 2nd 2008 by Berkley Hardcover (first published 2007)
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Dennis Fischman
Jul 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, fiction
This is a fitting capstone to the history of Dame Frevisse (view spoiler). It is ever more clear why a strong, independent-minded woman like her could live her life as a nun--indeed, it's clearer than ever why she could not have chosen any other life and been true to herself. I even envy her sometimes. To know your duty and to do it, to know the joy of blessing God a ...more
Suzanne Schuckel Heath
May 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've decided to make this my first goodreads review, not only because I've been fond of Sister Frevisse mysteries over the years (I don't think I've read all, but certainly most) but because, sadly, the author (Gail Lynn Frazer; Margaret was a pen name) passed away recently from breast cancer. Fittingly, this Frevisse novel -- I suppose it will be the last one unless someone takes over the series -- was my favorite. Others cover the plot well below; I'll just say that the prickly nature of Frevi ...more
Steven Peterson
Sep 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A bleak work. Not bleak because poorly written. Bleak because of the outcome of human decisions. This is a story of an apostate nun, Sister Cecily, who had "escaped" St. Frideswide's nunnery with a man. She had had a child by him. Upon his death, she returned with her boy. While her words indicated she wished to return, as matters evolved, all was not what it seemed. And, in the end, much misery. . . . Sister Frevisse worked through the situation and assisted bringing closure, in the unique styl ...more
Oct 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
IT was a bit tough finishing this because it was the very last in her series. I was determined to read the series straight through (not consecutively but in sequence) and the last few I had not yet read. This last one was non-political (compared to the ones immediately preceding) and set entirely in the cloister. It was clearly a chance for Ms Frazer to reflect on the growth of her characters and bring them to self-reflection. It also underscored some aspects of convent life (the deadly seriousn ...more
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Every bit as wonderful as the previous installments. If you have been reading the series, you know what to expect. If not, go start at the beginning. And I envy you.

I loved it and look forward to reading anything by Margaret Frazer, but especially the next in the series.
Laura Edwards
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carol Flatten
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have enjoyed all of the sister Frevisse mysteries, but this has been my favorite. I finally had to research the exact meaning of apostate, ( the abandonment of religion by a cleric/nun), which I could not figure out from the reading. All of books I have read from the series have beautifully portrayed life in the mid fourteen hundreds, but this one really was more about the faith that a nun must practice and what she gives up to be a nun. In this one I learned more about the "offices" or many c ...more
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Apostate’s Tale
An interesting perspective of a “well-known” era. I enjoyed learning about a different aspect of the Medieval time. Frazer’s assortment of characters and motives made the suspense thick, although sometimes repetitive.
Dene Travis
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
A good medieval who done it.
Jill Holmes
Jan 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
"The Apostate's Tale" is the seventeenth (and last--so far) of the medieval mysteries by Margaret Frazer that feature Dame Frevisse, a nun at the convent of St. Frideswide in Oxfordshire, England. In the spring of 1452, the nuns are enduring the final days of Lent when fasting adds to the everyday hardship of life in a small convent. They have three parties of visitors who intend to stay through Eastertide but are still barely scraping by on the guestgifts and other minor donations of provisions ...more
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Story kind of dragged, and a couple real clangers.

Though she argues in the appendix that the *word* infect was already in use in the time of this book, it had a different meaning. Germ theory was not yet 'discovered' (the miasma theory is not equivalent) and the theory of contagion was hundreds of years away.

And she seems to imply that Jesus spoke Latin.
Jobiska (Cindy)
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Margaret Frazer is the rare modern author who can keep things fresh, complicated, and compelling after well over a dozen mysteries starring the same character. She weaves former characters (such as the apostate nun of the title) back into the book with the perfect amount of recapping for new (or forgetful!) readers. As always, the historical research appears impeccable. And she can make you care for a character that can be unlovable, is (although a nun) imperfect (and knows it!), and make a read ...more
Jan 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Seventeenth in the series. Dame Frevisse, the heroine, is a nun in the convent of St. Frideswide (gotta love these medieval names) in Oxfordshire, and the the time is Holy Week 1452. Dame Frevisse is a niece of a son of the great writer Geoffrey Chaucer; this could account for her spunk, inquisitiveness, droll sense of humor, and ability to think outside the box. It also explains why each title in the series sounds like it could also be a title of a new supplement to the Canterbury Tales.

If some
Once again Frazer has produced a great mystery with the wonderful characterization and in-depth research that brings the 15th century to life. St. Frideswide's priory has to deal with a prodigal's return, as the apostate nun Sister Cecely, who had run away with a man nine years ago, returns with her bastard son when she has nowhere else to turn. But her protestations of penitence are proven to be lies when her deceased husband's family arrive at the priory demanding the return of deeds she has s ...more
P.D.R. Lindsay
Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it

Margaret Frazier improves with each book. This is her seventeenth Dame Frevisse novel and with more depth then some of the earlier ones. Here we find Dame Frevisse in her home convent and the details of the struggle to keep the underfunded convent thriving with such a small population of nuns, are just one of the details which make the story so well set in its time period.

What happens to nuns at the end of a long and lean Lent when they are at their lowest strength, if an apostate arrives? This
Aug 17, 2009 rated it liked it
This is one in a series of medieval mysteries by Margaret Frazer that center on Sister Fravisse at St. Frideswide’s priory. The Apostate's Tale focuses on the people in the cloister of St Frideswide’s. The mystery centers upon an apostate nun who returns with her son, those who come in search of her, land deeds, and poisonings... Sister Fravisse applies her logical mind to solve the mystery.

Through the story one gains insights into the life of a nun and regimented spiritual disciplines. In Betti
Apr 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book as I have all of the other Dame Frevisse mysteries. Once I start one, I read it every chance I get. What I liked best was the ending, when Dame Frevisse becomes the new prioress, something she has never wanted but a role which you have seen her growing into. Even so, it was a great surprise to me and seemed a perfect way to end the series. Of course, it could still go on and it would be interesting to see how the author handled that development but, alas, the author is now de ...more
Jun 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
I picked this up off the dollar shelf at the bookstore, so I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. It is a medieval mystery, set in 1452, and very detailed in the workings of an English priory. Dame Frevisse is the main character solving the mystery, but what I enjoyed were her thoughts on her faith and feelings as a nun. The strength of the novel is the characters. It isn't very fast-moving, but it was an engaging read. I've always enjoyed mysteries, and this one di ...more
May 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Sister Cecely who left St. Frideswide's nine years ago with a man suddenly returns with her son. She claims she is penitent and wants her son to be given to the Church so he can become a monk/priest. Her presence stirs up unhappy memories for the nuns and causes many doubts in the mind of Dame Frevisse, the 15th century sleuth.

This is the latest book (#17) from Margaret Frazer and it is an excellent read and very entertaining. I did figure out "who dun it" before it was revealed but did not cou
Catherine  Mustread
Nov 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Currently the last book, #17, in the Dame Frevisse series, which I began in April, 2012.  Six months of my life passed as did twenty one years in the life of Dame Frevisse from 1431-1452.  The series alludes to much of the political unrest of England during that time as well as timeless themes of love, greed, power, and religion.

Several tie-backs to previous books in the series make this a good concluding book in the series, as well as Frevisse's new status at the end of the book.
Mar 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
For the 17th book in the series, this was like a comfortable old shoe, but at the same time I thought the plot was fresh and interesting. I was planning to stretch out the pleasure at my dialysis sessions but got into it yesterday and finished it. Cecely had my sympathy for a great part of the book, here, and the nuns did seem so cold, so part of it was trying to figure out what really happened with her.
Elizabeth Newell
Nov 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Not a bad little historical mystery book. Though the solution to the mystery is rather obvious, it is interesting how it plays out and the personalities of the various characters and how they react is pleasing to read. A lot like a Brother Cadfael mystery, though perhaps more realistic in that nobody is won over by the fact that the apostate nun was 'in love' when she ran away. The protagonist actually comes across as rather hard and you feel sympathy with the villian.
May 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Wow--this was great! Admittedly, I'm jumping in a bit late in the series but I really enjoyed it. Kind of Brother Cadfaelesque with maybe a dose more of faith and less action. I also think Frazer does a good job of getting inside the two central character's heads, even though they have very opposing viewpoints about cloister life.
Feb 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
I found all of Margaret Frazer's boks delightful. This series as well as the six books that make up the Joliffe tales.
The plots are well thought out, the language is good, there is very little repetition between the books when explaining the history of the characters and the developement of the characters is excellent.
Very entertaining and pleasurable reads.
Aug 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Our final full-length Dame Frevisse novel takes us back to the cloister, and to a subject intimately bound with the restricted world, that of the cloistered life itself. Part of what can make Fraze's tales so compelling is when the author's understanding outstrips her protagonist, and so we see both Cecily's faults, and what may have brought her to them. Good light reading.
Jul 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, fiction, 2008
This was a hard book to start, due to all of the different Dame's, and sister's and characters introduced in the beginning. However, after the first two or three chapters, I was able to keep up, and the story and mystery was quite enjoyable.

This was the first Dame Frevisse mystery I have read, but I intend to go back to the beginning and read them all now.
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This last book in the Sister Frevisse series is a keeper--and no one dies! The characterizations of Sister Cecely and Neddie are particularly fine, and Sister Frevisee continues to grow in character and wisdom. This is an excellent series; I'm glad I own them all and can reread it every year or two.
Jan 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Really great historical fiction from an author who knows her stuff and works really hard to make sure her characters act like real medieval people, instead of 21st century people stuffed into the middle ages. In this book, a runaway nun briefly returns to her former convent, causing no end of chaos as her fate is determined. The plot is a little weak, but the overall story works out.
Kilian Metcalf
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
A most satisfying conclusion to a long-running series. I was so sorry to learn of Frazer's death, and I decided to reread both the Joliffe and Frevisse series in honor of her life and work. It was a long and satisfying project. I'm sorry there won't be any more books, and grateful that she produced so many.
Mar 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
How does a woman with a 21st century intellect cope with being a 15th century nun? And how does a woman forced to be a nun choose to be free and a murderer instead? And what happens when both women are thrown together? Good mystery, interesting history, fascinating ethical and moral questions, but still an enjoyable read.
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Margaret Frazer is a pen name used at first by Mary Monica Pulver Kuhfeld and Gail Lynn Frazer writing in tandem for a series of historical medieval mysteries featuring Dame Frevisse. After the sixth novel, the works are written by Gail Frazer alone, and the name has subsequently been used exclusively by her. A second series of novels by Ms Frazer set in the same time and place feature the player/ ...more

Other books in the series

Sister Frevisse (1 - 10 of 17 books)
  • The Novice's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #1)
  • The Servant's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #2)
  • The Outlaw's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #3)
  • The Bishop's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #4)
  • The Boy's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #5)
  • The Murderer's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #6)
  • The Prioress' Tale (Sister Frevisse, #7)
  • The Maiden's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #8)
  • The Reeve's Tale (Sister Frevisse #9)
  • The Squire's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #10)