For fans of Hillary Mantel, Maggie O'Farrell, and Emma Donoghue, a devastating novel of love, intrigue, and community in a time of sickness that remade the world.
Fourteenth-century Europe. The Black Death has killed half the known world, and
in an isolated convent, a small group of nuns spends their days in work, austerity, and devotion, chanting the hours of the liturgy. But their community is threatened. Rumors of heresy and a scandalous Book of Ursula, based on the teachings of the charismatic former abbess and founder of the order, have prompted the male Church hierarchy to launch an investigation. The priest assigned to minister to the nuns, Father Francis, who is wracked by guilt for an unspeakable crime committed during the lawless plague years, was no friend of Ursula and can't be counted on to defend the order. Disrespect and rebellion infect some novices, and the youngest among them pines for the bishop's chief inquisitor. And Mother John, the convent's aging spiritual leader, fears she's losing her mind after experiencing a vision that brings back her own rebellious past.
As events unfold over the course of a single day, a blizzard that has swept across Europe will break over the convent, endangering the women there and testing their faith. In this astonishing novel, the author of the award-winning Songs for the Butcher's Daughter
explores the territory between faith and freedom, and how the horrific events of history shape individual lives.
About the Author
Peter Manseau, born in 1974, is a novelist, memoirist, and historian and serves as Curator of Religion at the Smithsonian Institution. His first novel, Songs for the Butcher's Daughter, won the National Jewish Book Award, the American Library Association's Sophie Brody Medal, and the Ribalow Prize. A Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers pick, it was shortlisted for the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize as well as France's Prix Médicis Étranger, and has also been published in Spain, Italy, Israel, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Along with his novels, Manseau is the author of eight nonfiction books. He lives with his family in Annapolis, Maryland.