(From the publisher):
Here in my wall, everything seems the same. The food they bring me tastes of stone. The water is stony and I too am half petrified, accepting, half dead already, like an animal in winter.
Gaul, the sixth century. In the dusk of the setting Roman sun, women lived short, often brutish lives. If they didn't die of plague or in childbirth, rape or death at the hands of conquering armies often awaited them. The Church alone offered both men and women a sanctuary, an ordered existence in a world without order. In pursuit of the religious life, however, thwarted energies sometimes turned to mysticism and balked minds recoiled towards unique horrors of the mind and body, including the practice of years-long self-immurement in a sealed, closet-sized cell in a convent wall.
Radegunda, a German princess, lives both lives. As a young girl she sees her family murdered and is herself raised by and later married to her captor, Clotair, a Frankish king. By escaping from the court to found a convent at Poitiers, she hopes to provide a haven for herself and women like her -- in particular Agnes, the spiritual daughter whom she names abbess. Radegunda's convent is to be a place of poetry and calm. It is a world without men -- except for Fortunatus, the Italian priest and poet who came to observe and chronicle this holy experiment. Not unlike the warriors outside, however, Radegunda is a creature of excess. Her spirit is flawed by pride so strong that it makes her withdraw to seek an unnatural communion with God. Left unattended, the seeds of passion around her quicken and grow, and with them the tangled, unruly world of disorder without encroached upon the world within the walls.
Original title: Women in the Wall
Genre: Fiction→ Historical→ European→ Medieval