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The Rebel Nun

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  228 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Marj Charlier’s The Rebel Nun is based on the true story of Clotild, the daughter of a sixth-century king and his concubine, who leads a rebellion of nuns against the rising misogyny and patriarchy of the medieval church.

At that time, women are afforded few choices in life: prostitution, motherhood, or the cloister. Only the latter offers them any kind of independence. By
Hardcover, 315 pages
Published March 2nd 2021 by Blackstone Publishing
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The Monastery of the Holy Cross was once the most prestigious royal monastery in Gaul (Western Europe) of the early Middle Ages, “populated largely by Frankish women of royal and noble birth…” The monastery started declining after a rebellion of nuns against the rising misogyny and patriarchy of the medieval church. This story is based on the true story of Clotild, the rebel nun.

Poitiers, 588 AD. Sister Clotild of the Holy Cross Monastery is a witness to drastically changing approach toward wome
Aug 29, 2020 marked it as to-read
Is this real life? Is there light at the end of the endless WWII tunnel historical fiction as a genre has been stuck in for the last four years? Is it a novel set the early Middle Ages that is NOT about the Vikings? That isn't even set in Britain?

I mean, this checks all my boxes, and that's weird because nothing checks all my boxes. My boxes are weird. Early medieval church politics? Yes, please. Sixth century French royalty? Yes, that too. Nuns? Always yes. The amazing women of the early Middle
Kathryn in FL
May 28, 2021 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Historical Fiction Lovers
3.5 Stars

The Rebel Nun focuses on Clotild, who has taken up the life in an abbey to protect her from the possibility of assassination, as she is a potential heir to the throne of King Charibert I, who had a number of children with several wives . These heirs have been highly competitive to assume the throne and already several heirs have already been some murdered by siblings. Though she is unlikely to be chosen as a female and illegitimate bastard of a favorite mistress (a slave woman, who refu
Joy Matteson
Sep 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: medieval-fiction
If there's one thing we need now, it's brave stories of women of bygone years who stood up to forces of evil who never got their stories told in their lifetimes--even if they didn't all get the happy endings we wanted them to. I loved this story. Clotild is a nun in a monastery outside of Poitiers in the late 6th century. This is a period of upheaval for France--the Church is wrestling with deepening its roots into French religious culture of the period. You don't need to be a historical theolog ...more
May 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing


Wow! I honestly cannot believe that this bases off on a true story. The Rebel Nun is a compelling tale of a group of nuns who rebel against the injustice of the church, and I enjoyed reading it.

To begin with, the story was a little hard to grasp over the first few pages as the author introduces many characters. But once I got the hang of it, I could not put it down. The author sets the pace gradually and helps us get into the
Feb 26, 2021 rated it liked it
{3.5 stars}

"'Perhaps you should think less and pray more.' I shook my head and dropped back down on the bench. Was even this champion of the Holy Cross now adopting the church's new attitude toward women? 'What would you say if I suggested you think less and pray more.' I asked. 'But I'm a m-... poet.' He was about to say 'man' but caught himself just in time."


"You will find few clergy these days who would support this monastery's continued independence. Especially
The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears
This was a rather timely read given that the US Council of Bishops has voted to draft a resolution to deny the second Catholic president - Joe Biden - communion due to his pro-choice stance. The 6th century still has its hold on the 21st, especially its views of women. Much has improved, yet there is still much left to do, and the Catholic Church is still stuck in a medieval mindset where women are concerned.

The 6th century Merovingian world is one I know little about, but am very fascinated by.
Clotild is an illegitimate daughter of Frankish King Charibert. After her father’s death, she is sent to a monastery called Holy Cross in 6th century Poitiers. It’s believed to be the safest place for her. When the previous abbess dies, Clotild is believed to be the next abbess. But instead, bishop Maroveus appoints Lebover to be the next abbess and life under her rule sets out to be a difficult one when she cuts food rationing drastically.

Christianity is still a fairly new thing, and she has le
Amanda Hupe
Mar 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2021-reads
Thank you, NetGalley, Marj Charlier, and Blackstone Publishing for the opportunity to read this book!

Gregory of Tours discusses in book 10 of his History of the Franks about the daughter of a king, named Clotid who leads a rebellion at a nunnery. The Rebel Nun by Marj Charlier takes Gregory of Tours’ account and gives us historical fiction from Clotid’s point-of-view. Clotid wants to be abbess of her monastery. She is devoted to her monastery but was raised in a completely different life. She wa
Caroline Trussell
Feb 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The Rebel Nun was a thrilling, exciting and informational read. At first, I wasn’t sure if it was my style, but as I began to read I could NOT put it down.

I didn’t realize, upon reading it, that some of the book was historically accurate and that Clotild, Basina, and some of the other vital characters were real individuals in the early 500s. I think this makes the story that much more interesting.

There are so many aspects to this book that I loved. Clotild’s competing piousness to her pagan re
Sep 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a unique and enjoyable historic fiction. I loved that it was based on a historic woman who stood up and spoke out at a time when women, nuns especially, were supposed to be quiet and subservient. Clotild was the daughter of a king and a slave, sent to a convent after her father's death to protect her from his wives and their children. When the bishops decided to star interfering at the convent and take much of the nun's power away from them because they were women, it resulted in the nu ...more
Jenny Buchta
Sep 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
It took me about two weeks to finish this novel. It wasn’t bad, but it’s not going to force you to stay up late at night just to see how it ends. The Rebel Nun is something different and it was definitely a well-written and well-researched book.
Tessa Palfrey
Mar 01, 2021 rated it it was ok
Quick synopsis: A band of nuns, led by our protagonist Clotild, rebel when their happy cloistered lives are turned upside down after the death of their beloved abbess. Her replacement is corrupt and in cahoots with a cartoonishly villainous bishop.

The good news is, it was nice to read a book about a period in time that I rarely read about- so I learned many things about that era as well as about life as a nun, and the facets of religious life back then in general. So for that, I am glad I read t
Donna R Browning
May 03, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
O!d story told from current point of view

Seventh century story told in 21st century of view and written to appeal to current thinking. Feel like something is not quite grasped in this tale.
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is an ARC Review. Many thanks to Blackstone and Edelweiss.

I'm really struggling whether to rate this a 4 or a 5, so I'm calling it 4.5. I don't have too many complaints (as should be obvious by the following review), but I would have liked a little more information about Lebover. While I understand she wasn't the most important character, I was interested in her motivations and I feel like there was a lot left to explore with her character. Though, admittedly, I'm not sure how Charlier coul
Asheley T.
Apr 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021-read, historical
I chose to read The Rebel Nun by Marj Charlier because I have a huge interest in Medieval stuff. Whenever I find a book or any other media about this time period, I get really excited about it. I was thrilled to pieces when a beautiful hardcover copy of The Rebel Nun arrived at my house in exchange for a review.

Prior to hearing about this book, I had never heard of Clotild or the big uprising that she led during the sixth century. Clotild was born into royalty, the daughter of King Charibert an
Poptart19 (ren)
Feb 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

Well-written historical fiction based on true events; a survival story of some brave, not oft remembered women who stood up for themselves in the face of humiliation, mistreatment, misogyny, danger, & intimidation.

[What I liked:]

•The art is beautiful (the front page, at the start of chapters, the family tree sketch, etc.), and it fits with the botanical theme of the story.

•Easy to read prose, and at times it’s even lovely.

•It’s nice to have a novel set in the early Middle Ages (6th C. C
Mar 05, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Big thanks to Blackstone Publishing and Netgalley for the eARC!

I struggled a bit with this one, especially at the beginning. Once things got going (read: unbearable for Clotild, our narrator) the story picked up and I began to feel swept along with it, but until then I plodded miserably along for 100 slow, grim pages.

I am just not sure who the intended audience for this book is. It feels quite niche - feminists with a taste for historical fiction centered around organized religion and its pratf
Mar 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021
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The Rebel Nun by Marj Charlier is a historical fiction story, centered on Clotild who led nuns in a rebellion against the patriarchy of the church. Ms. Charlier is a published author and journalist

Clotild is the bastard daughter of a king. During the sixth-century, at the age of 13, she enters a convent which is the only place she can be guaranteed safety from the king’s former wives.

During her time, Clotlid enjoyed the
Apr 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
Marj Charlier's The Rebel Nun is a swiftly moving, absorbing read. Based on a little-known historical event, when a Sixth-Century nun led her spiritual sisters to rebel against growing patriarchal control of the Christian church. Clotild, the central character, had hopes of being elected abbess of the female monastery of the Holy Cross. When the (male, of course) bishop awards the title to someone else, despite a tradition of the sisters electing their own abbess, Clotild grows increasingly dire ...more
Mar 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars! This book is incredible! It is moving, unique, heart-wrenching, heartwarming, and very interesting! Whenever I picked up "The Rebel Nun", I was whisked back in time to the sixth-century, and found myself drawn in from the first page to the last.

This is the first book I have read by Marj Charlier, and I can't wait to read more! She seamlessly blends history and historical fiction, and the story she brings to life truly jumps off of the page. I can only imagine the amount of research sh
Sasha (bahareads)
Mar 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
"We opposed much more than each other. Our skirmish represented much bigger battles: the war against women in the church, a disagreement over the proper location for relics, a conflict over the role of bishops in female monasteries. And nothing had been settled, although much had been ruined."

Rebel Nun highlights the plight of women; as the main character, Clotild, expresses multiple time throughout the book that the three choices for women were prostitution, motherhood, or the cloister. Clo
Neva Kay Gronert
May 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
"As a woman, the only choices I had were marriage, prostitution, or the cloister."

Illegitimate daughter of one of numerous petty kings of 6th Century Gaul, Clotild enters the Monastery of the Holy Cross when she is thirteen. Although she has limited options to escape the murderous inclinations of her constantly feuding relatives, she grows to love the monastery, and becomes a leader of the other nuns. Then her beloved abbess dies, and the monastery is subject to the whims and avarice of new lead
Rhiannon Johnson
Mar 19, 2021 rated it liked it
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

As a woman in 6th century Europe, you had three choices: marriage, prostitution, or the cloister. Marriage wasn't necessarily "safe" in that even if you were lucky enough to not be used as a bartering tool to form an alliance between families and your husband didn't beat you mercilessly, it still meant endless child-bearing, often resulting in the deaths of the mother, child, or both. Prostitution was (and still i
Based on a true story, Clotild is the illegitimate daughter of a king and his concubine. When she comes of age, she is cloistered in the Monastary of the Holy Cross. She loves the monastery and the camaraderie between the sisters. However, she is torn between her religious beliefs and the pagan beliefs she learned from her mother and grandmother. The beloved Abbess dies and Clotild believes she will be the next Abbess, however the cruel Bishop Maroveus announces Sister Lebover to be the next Abb ...more
“The story of our struggle will end only when our kingdom is no longer at the mercy of the patriarchy and the church, the matriarchy flourishes anew, and pagan traditions are again celebrated across the land with impunity.”

The Rebel Nun is a unique and gripping novel, one that explores a rarely-covered sliver of history. Clotild is the bastard daughter of a Merovingian king living as a nun at an abbey called Holy Cross. Throughout her cloistering, the Church has become increasingly male-dominate
Ashley Conner
Feb 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
The Rebel Nun follows Clotild, a nun with pagan roots and royal blood, as she leads a rebellion against the Medieval Church. During a time when the Church was starting to strip women from power and equal standing, Clotild attempted to return The Holy Cross to the safe haven it once was for her and her Sisters.

I find stories like this so powerful! More and more we talk about how the history we learn in school is written largely from only one perspective. So when I pick up a book like this, that t
Lynne Spreen
Feb 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Clotild, the illegitimate daughter of a king, lives in the monastery of the Holy Cross in medieval Gaul (6th century). Like many women of the time, she has entered the monastery to escape the only other choices available to her: risk-filled childbearing, or prostitution. As a gifted natural leader, Clotild is on track to become abbess. However, when the current abbess dies, a corrupt local bishop installs another nun to suit his own political purposes. The new abbess, Lebovar, is insular, glutto ...more
Apr 16, 2021 marked it as to-read
I received The Rebel Nun as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

In 6th century Gaul, times are changing: Christianity is centralizing and standardizing, and under this new regime, women religious are losing any semblance of equality and standing they had. And yet, the Monastery of the Holy Cross stands firm, sheltering noblewomen who have turned their lives over to God in lieu of unwanted marriages or vicious relatives. Clotild is one such woman, illegitimate daughter of a king and a pagan slave. Sent
Linda Edmonds cerullo
May 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Well-written historical fiction based on the life of Clotild, a sixth-century nun who, due to disagreements with the bishop who appointed a new abbess when Clotild felt the job should be hers, organizes an uprising with the other nuns in an attempt to take charge of the cloister. The rebellion is quashed in a most violent fashion and Clotild and a fellow nun face charges due to their involvement. This book is a reminder that there was a time when women had few choices in life. Marriage meant chi ...more
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