Jeanette's Reviews > The Anchoress

The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader
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This book suffers. Its core is the dichotomy of will/mind vs body/physical. The era is completely 1200's in rural England. Our protagonist is 17 and has chosen to become a vowed Anchoress within a nailed-closed stone cell of a rural chapel. Her first 18 months or so within this environment is the progression of the book. It won't be for many readers who want action and dense plots of multiple twists, that is for sure. In some ways, more than Hild or other books of enclosed women I have read, this one reminds me the most of Peony in Love by Lisa See. Completely different worldview or religious foundation- but much the same kind of intense identity for perfection fixation. Sarah has chosen this vow herself, unlike other books about Hildegard who was primarily forced as a child to accept a similar situation.

It's not an easy read, yet the language prose and artistic descriptions of the scribe's work are at least 4 star. But to me, with so much of St. Margaret and less of Sarah or Anna or Lizzie- those pages did tend to drag. But maybe that was purposeful- as an extension of the martyrdom of the personal. I enjoyed the first half of the book to a 4 star, but the last half to a 3. Our Father scribe confessor who eventually connects to Sarah on a human level put a cold water wash on the entire for me. You needed the life force and joy of Anna in juxtaposition more, IMHO. Father's intellect alone didn't do it. Just another illustration of the ultimate earthy controls (serfdom, patriarchy)that remain so fixed, despite any levels of faith or self-sacrifice.

As religious life is one whose perfection is cored in going TO rather than retreating FROM, I think this tale of a chosen living death has some impelling chapters. But is Sarah really going TOWARD her Lord? Would only those of strong God founded identity contemplate the questions Sarah poses? In this age of the machines have others just "left" in other ways?

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Reading Progress

June 7, 2015 – Shelved
June 7, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
June 9, 2015 – Started Reading
June 9, 2015 –
page 79
24.69% "Solitary and sometimes mystical contemplation centers this unusual nugget- mind/body dichotomy so rarely visited in any human sense, let alone the female. Will take this read slowly."
June 10, 2015 – Finished Reading

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