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This startlingly detailed, flowing historical novel brings the Dark Ages to light. It is based on the discovery in Ireland of manuscripts not far from the St Brigit's Cloister in Kildare. The heroine is born a pagan with a mother who influences her in the ways of the Earth based beliefs, especially of the Goddess Brighid. When her mother dies from a wasting disease, Gwynne must make her own way in the world. Armed with a thirst for knowledge, especially of reading and writing, she becomes acolyte and wife to the druid Giannon, who is her soul mate. Against the backdrop of the rise of Christianity and the degradation of the Goddess beliefs, a hauntingly beautiful story of struggle, sorrow, and joy unfold. Her insights into the nature of spirit and how it is expressed by the various beliefs of that time are luminous. Her journey takes her to the cloister of nuns at Kildare, where she records the holy musings of saints before her time, like Saint Patrick and Saint Augustine. The power of the Church now begins to decry the powers of women and talk of witches. The style of the book is flashback; her past comes alives by her words in the candlelight of her hovel. This book brought me to tears from some passages. If you enjoy Celtic history and religion, this book will transport you to a time long ago.
Apr 3, 2007
What a fascinating story! Kate Horsley spins a strong woman's tale during the years of change in Ireland around 500 CE. Her characters come alive in their travels and travails. Gwynneve, the 'pagan nun,' becomes a Druid early in her life then is converted by the newly arrived Christian monks. She interweaves her story with those of Saints Brigit, Augustine, and Patrick. The novel reveals the simplicity of the Druidic life that easily grew to believe in Christianity as well as the cruelty of some who misuse any faith - as well as the faithful.
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