The Corner That Held Them
By Sylvia Townsend Warner
A masterful historical novel of monastic life, set in the 14th century. Many consider this Townsend Warner's most accomplished work.
'One of the great British novels of the twentieth century: a narrative of extraordinary reach, power and beauty' SARAH WATERS
In memory of the wife who had once dishonoured and always despised him, Brian de Retteville founded Oby - a twelfth-century convent in a hidden corner of Norfolk. Two centuries later the Benedictine community is well established there and, as befits a convent whose origin had such chequered motives, the inhabitants are prey to the ambitions, squabbles, jealousies and pleasures of less spiritual environments. An outbreak of the Black Death, the collapse of the convent spire, the Bishop's visitation and a nun's disappearance are interwoven with the everyday life of the nuns, novices, successive Prioresses and the nun's priest, in this affectionate and ironic observation of the more wordly history of a religious order.
Born in Harrow (1893-1978), Sylvia Townsend Warner published seven novels, four volumes of poetry, a volume of essays and eight volumes of short stories. She lived most of her adult life with her close companion Valentine Ackland in Dorset and Norfolk.
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- Publication date:
01 Mar 2012
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A spellbinding piece of historical fiction - spare, luminous . . . One starts rereading as soon as one has reached the last page — Sunday Times
The Corner That Held Them is witty, knowledgeable, and gently on the side of women — Andrew Miller, Guardian
A very subversive novel about a Fenland nunnery during the years of the Black Death, which sounds like not a barrel of laughs but is very, very funny and haunting and strange like all her novels. The reason I love books about nuns is that the enclosed world of the convent is such a brilliant metaphor. Nun books are as much about politics and power as they are about spirituality. — Patrick Gayle
One of the great British novels of the twentieth century: a narrative of extraordinary reach, power and beauty — Sarah Waters