A masterful historical novel of monastic life, set in the 14th century. Many consider this Townsend Warner's most accomplished work.
In memory of the wife who had once dishonoured and always despised him, Brian de Retteville founded Oby - a twelfth-century convent in a hidden corner of Norfolk. Two centuries later the Benedictine community is well established there and, as befits a convent whose origin had such chequered motives, the inhabitants are prey to the ambitions, squabbles, jealousies and pleasures of less spiritual environments.
An outbreak of the Black Death, the collapse of the convent spire, the Bishop's visitation and a nun's disappearance are interwoven with the everyday life of the nuns, novices, successive Prioresses and the nun's priest, in this affectionate and ironic observation of the more wordly history of a religious order.
A magnificent recreation of the life of a medieval convent, dense with physical detail and imagined lives. - Philip Hensher, Daily Telegraph