By Paul Moorcraft
Poisoned Pen Press - May 2002
ISBN: 1590580117 - HB
Historical / Contemporary Crime
1329 & 1967 Surrey, England

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde,
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This is a story about history and people's obsession with it, and how it can be remade however we want it. Young Christine Carpenter was walled up as a willing anchorite in the village of Shere in Surrey back in 1329 for whatever reason and the story captures the imagination of Catholic priest Father Michael Duval and makes him want to get it down on paper. But it turns the brain of an already deranged person as he imagines how it might have been with the beautiful but pure peasant girl Christine at the mercy of Sir Richard FitzGeoffrey and wishing to escape to her cell rather than submit to him. But for Duval, writing it down isn't enough and when Marda Stewart moves into the village, events are suddenly set in motion that will escalate into kidnapping and more...

Flicking between Duval's novelized version of events and more contemporary events, this is the classic tale of an obsession that leads to abduction and worse as the captor tries to act out his fantasy of an imagined past, remade the way he wants it to be replete with lovely virgins, lecherous knights and the heady mysticism of the Middle Ages. Contrasted with this are the sexual mores of the 1960s and the twin themes of repression versus freedom and spiritual belief versus the individual's belief in themselves. There is nothing new about the story's theme, but as a keen reader of historical fiction, I enjoyed the way it took the idea of the genre and how people reshape the past to suit the whims of the day, or their own personal desires. Silence of the Lambs meets No Orchids For Miss Blandish? Perhaps, but with a lot more besides.

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