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Robyn Cadwallader

Autor(a) de The Anchoress

5 Works 306 Membros 15 Críticas

About the Author

Robyn Cadwallader is an Australian writer based in Canberra, Australia. She taught creative writing and English Literature at university. Her PhD thesis was published as Three Methods for Reading the Thirteenth-Century Seinte Marherete. She gave up teaching to focus on writing. She has published mostrar mais prize-winning short stories and reviews. Her work also includes a book of poetry entitled I Paint Unafraid and a short play entitled Artemisia. Her novel The Anchoress won the Varuna LitLink NSW Byron Bay Unpublished Manuscript Award in 2010. (Bowker Author Biography) mostrar menos
Image credit: Author website

Obras por Robyn Cadwallader

The Anchoress (2015) 220 exemplares
Book of Colours (2018) 65 exemplares
The Fire and the Rose (2023) 12 exemplares
I painted unafraid (2010) 3 exemplares


Conhecimento Comum

Data de nascimento
Locais de residência
ACT, Australia

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Robyn Cadwallader has published numerous, prize-winning short stories and reviews, as well as a book of poetry and a non-fiction book based on her PhD thesis concerning attitudes to virginity and women in the Middle Ages. She lives among vineyards outside Canberra when not travelling to England for research, visiting ancient archaeological sites along the way.



HistFic that explores injustice in the past can shine a light on pernicious effects that persist to this day. Robyn Cadwallader's latest novel The Fire and the Rose isn't just a novel of star-crossed lovers frustrated by religious differences, and it isn't just an independent woman confronting barriers to her ambitions. Even if you know something of the long history of anti-Semitism, it's a confronting exposé of its prevalence in England in the medieval period, from the role of the church in perpetuating an untrue historical record to the king's expulsion of all Jews in 1290. Most powerfully, as it says on the back cover blurb:
... it is also a novel about what it is to be made 'other', to be exiled from home and family. But it is also a call to recognise how much we need the other, the one we do not understand, making it a strikingly resonant and powerfully hopeful novel for our times.

Readers of The Anchoress (2015) will remember Eleanor, the child who is taught to read and write by Sarah, the anchoress. Twenty years later in The Fire and the Rose, the orphaned Eleanor is working as a housemaid for a wool merchant in 13th century Lincoln. She has hopes of getting more satisfying work as a scribe, refusing a patronising offer from marriage from Jevon, a man who tells her he's prepared to overlook the birthmark on her face.
Eleanor steps back. 'I live well enough here. I like it.'

'You like cleaning someone else's house for him, digging in someone else's soil, tending a feeble garden?'

She glares. 'I can write, Jevon. I have skills I want to use for more than estate accounts.'

He steps closer. 'Ellie, don't be foolish. You're a woman. You won't get work as a scribe. You either scrub Stephen's pots and dig his garden, or you marry me.' He pauses and gestures to her face. 'And there's not many men as will see past that.' (p.29)

Unsurprisingly, Eleanor decided she was better without a man at all.

But then there's Asher, a Jewish spice merchant...

Initially, Eleanor shares some of the prejudices she hears all around her, but her regular visits to buy spice piques her interest in the Hebrew script. He's intrigued that she can read and write, and despite the prohibitions — social and legal — a covert relationship eventually results in the awkwardness of a pregnancy. When her pregnancy is known, her employer sends her packing, leaving Eleanor without an income or a home.

The friendship of other women supports Eleanor through this difficult time. Because I take an interest in the way that older women are represented in fiction, I particularly liked the dynamic characterisation of Marchota, an older Jewish businesswoman reviled for her alleged part in the kidnapping and torture of a boy called Luke. Her dignity and resilience in the face of persecution is impressive, and she becomes Eleanor's mainstay despite her own troubles. During the real-time chronology of this novel, there were mass imprisonments of Jews, arbitrary executions, punishing taxation and the humiliating requirement forcing Jews to wear a yellow badge, and these statutes affect the Jewish characters at different times.

Asher, Marchota, Chera and Milla are all impacted by restrictions on how they can make a living, measures intended to pressure them into conversion. The looming forced expulsion of all Jews from England forces Eleanor to consider whether she should convert so that they can marry and leave England together. But Cadwallader doesn't romanticise things...

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2023/05/03/the-fire-and-the-rose-2023-by-robyn-cadwalla...
… (mais)
anzlitlovers | May 3, 2023 |
Very interesting. A thoughtful and absorbing historical debut novel that speaks to faith, desire and hope. Haunting beautiful.
ShannonRose4 | 10 outras críticas | Sep 15, 2020 |
Pretty sure I came across this because of a CR review. A short-ish novel about a woman who anchoress to become the anchoress of an abbey. In the middle ages the practice of walling up a woman gave prestige and extra bonus holiness to the church. I’m extremely fascinated and a little repulsed by the practice, but books about characters who chose these constrained lifestyles interest me greatly. What I liked about the book was it’s quietness. We are with Sarah through her very human struggles with the physical and emotional tolls of such a life, and though there are dramatic parts, it still feels sort of subdued.… (mais)
janemarieprice | 10 outras críticas | Jun 19, 2020 |
An outstanding debut novel which explores the psychology of extreme devotion: in 13th-century England a 17-year-old girl is willingly "buried alive," shut up in a single room for the rest of her life so she can devote herself to prayer and contemplation. But no (wo)man is an island: she has two maids and a confessor, although curtains are supposed to separate them at all times. A cat also insists on joining her. Richly evocative of its time and place yet very accessible.
ElyseBell | 10 outras críticas | May 25, 2019 |



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Associated Authors

Tim Winton Foreword
Steve West Narrator
Perrine Chambon Traduction
Arnaud Baignot Traduction



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