THE NUN'S TALE by Candace M. Robb


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The author's third novel focuses once again on York in 14th-century England and on one-eyed Owen Archer (The Lady Chapel, etc.), soldier-sleuth in the service of John Thoresby, Lord Chancellor and Archbishop of York. Joanna Calverly of Leeds, a young nun at St. Clement's, has stolen a relic and run away--to the home of Will Longford in Beverly, suspected as a focal point for mercenary soldiers disloyal to King Edward. A year later, tales of Joanna's burial prove false when she returns to the convent, penitent and in emotional turmoil, telling of a vanished Longford; his cook dead; his maid raped and killed. Owen's pregnant, spirited wife Lucie, an apothecary, is asked by the Archbishop to help the convent's Mother Superior with Joanna as Owen begins to investigate Longford's disappearance, the mystery of Joanna's mother's death, the murder of her bestial soldier brother Hugh, and a host of other questions raised by Joanna's ravings. By turns seductress, visionary and simpleton, the young woman has left a trail of destruction in which Lucie and Owen are ever more enmeshed as the body count mounts and the puzzles slowly unravel. The plot, based on a true recorded incident, has intriguing facets, but is overwhelmed here by the sheer mass of characters, subplots, and historical detail, however undoubtedly authentic. The portrayal of Owen and Lucie's domestic life has a clarity and simplicity sorely missed elsewhere in a tale that will be most enjoyed by medieval era enthusiasts.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1995
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: St. Martin's