Mary Sharratt. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-328-51877-4
Sharratt (Illuminations) delivers an intense if somewhat diffuse portrait of medieval pilgrim and mystic Margery Kempe. After the birth of Margery’s first child sends her into a depression, she senses demons all around her. She endures 13 more births and her much older husband’s failure to provide for the family before embarking, in 1413, on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, stopping first to visit the cloistered nun Julian of Norwich, who gives Margery the manuscript of her visions for safekeeping. Along the way, she gains shelter and support from sympathetic clerics after she mentions her connection to Julian and offers glimpses of the manuscript, but dangerous travel companions, such as a friar who attempts to sexually assault her, wear her down on the odyssey. After her return to a family who barely recognizes her and wants her there even less, she embarks on another pilgrimage, this one hastily described by Sharratt, to Santiago, Spain. Back in England, she faces danger after being arrested for the heretical practice of preaching in public. Margery’s faith and emotions are rich on the page, but the many episodes don’t quite hang together. This offers an accessible but not particularly notable view of medieval life. Agent: Jennifer Weltz, Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/14/2021
Release date: 04/01/2021
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-1-328-51878-1
Compact Disc - 384 pages - 978-0-358-45023-8
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