Three women seek answers to their prayers at Rochemont Abbey, in this appealing novel set in the Dark Ages.
In a well-paced and interwoven story, Anthony’s (The Ruins of Lace, 2012) main characters relate their tales as they each face challenges of faith and hope for miracles. Sister Juliana left her lover and young daughter years ago and found refuge caring for Saint Catherine’s chapel and protecting the saint’s relic, which lies in a small casket. Disturbed by a promise she made to her dying mentor to assume leadership of the abbey, she’s racked with unresolved guilt about her past and doubts her ability to honor her promise. So she remains silent as another usurps control and plunders the pilgrims’ offerings and the chapel’s modest treasures. Anna is a young girl who has rarely ventured beyond her home due to her physical deformities. But now her mother’s death has left her homeless and destitute, and she desperately yearns to be healed. With no other possessions save her mother’s pendant and the clothes on her back, Anna begins her journey to Saint Catherine’s chapel. Abandoned by a group of pilgrims, she wanders into danger, and Godric, a sympathetic Saxon traveling with a group of Danes, becomes her protector. When Gisele learns her father, King Charles, has agreed to marry her off to a barbaric chieftain of the Danes to fulfill the terms of a treaty, the princess begs to travel to Saint Catherine’s relic to ascertain that the marriage is God’s will. Although her father decides to let her go, her plans are thwarted. She tries to enlist help from others, including the valiant knight who safeguards her, but she encounters unexpected problems, including wild animals and an uncooperative horse. The three women’s stories converge into a logical, though not necessarily happily-ever-after, closure, as Anthony creates a narrative that subtly educates, poses stimulating questions and entertains.
Readers who enjoy historical fiction and romance will find this a worthwhile journey.