England, 1255: Sarah is only seventeen when she chooses to become an anchoress, a holy woman much like Saint Hildegard of Bingen, shut away in a small cell, measuring seven by nine paces, at the side of the village church. Fleeing the grief of losing a much-loved sister in childbirth and the pressure to marry, she decides to renounce the world, with all its dangers, desires, and temptations, and to commit herself to a life of prayer. But it soon becomes clear that even the thick, unforgiving walls of her cell cannot keep the outside world away, and Sarah’s body and soul are still in great danger.
Robyn Cadwallader’s powerful debut novel tells an absorbing, entirely human, and compulsively readable story of faith, desire, shame, fear, and the very human need for connection and touch. Compelling, evocative, and haunting, The Anchoress is both quietly heartbreaking and thrillingly unpredictable.