April 14, 2021

BT- The Rebel Nun

The Rebel Nun

by Marj Charlier

Published: March 2, 2021 by Blackstone Publishing

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Marj Charlier’s The Rebel Nun is based on the true story of Clotild, the daughter of a sixth-century king and his concubine, who leads a rebellion of nuns against the rising misogyny and patriarchy of the medieval church.

At that time, women are afforded few choices in life: prostitution, motherhood, or the cloister. Only the latter offers them any kind of independence. By the end of the sixth century, even this is eroding as the church begins to eject women from the clergy and declares them too unclean to touch sacramental objects or even their priest-husbands.

Craving the legitimacy thwarted by her bastard status, Clotild seeks to become the next abbess of the female Monastery of the Holy Cross, the most famous of the women’s cloisters of the early Middle Ages. When the bishop of Poitiers blocks her appointment and seeks to control the nunnery himself, Clotild masterminds an escape, leading a group of uncloistered nuns on a dangerous pilgrimage to beg her royal relatives to intercede on their behalf. But the bishop refuses to back down, and a bloody battle ensues. Will Clotild and her sisters succeed with their quest, or will they face excommunication, possibly even death?

In the only historical novel written about the incident, The Rebel Nun is a richly imagined story about a truly remarkable heroine.

My Thoughts: This book had me at the title. Having attended Catholic school I found the idea of nuns becoming rebellious absolutely hilarious. This book did not disappoint. It not only provides a glimpse into a forgotten incident, it also highlights the early Merovingian dynasty. Author Marj Charlier provides the reader with all the machinations behind why women entered the cloister, what life was like inside the cloister, and the outside influences that impacted the quality of life for those who embraced that life. I found that the struggles Clotild had were a reflection of the struggles many women had has they were forced to accept the decisions made for them by men. Was she simply resentful that she didn’t get the ultimate prize? Possibly. Regardless, the book illustrates the lengths that the Church went to in order to solidify its power. A very enjoyable book that I devoured over the course of 2 days. A must read for all lovers of medieval Europe.

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