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The Anchoress

The Anchoress

by Robyn Cadwallader

From a remarkable new Australian author comes The Anchoress, a story set in the thirteenth century within the confines of a stone cell measuring seven paces by nine.

Publish Date
February 2015

Tiny in scope but universal in themes, it is a wonderful, wholly compelling fictional achievement. It's not often that a stunning new Australian novel comes to an agent via a Twitter call out. It's not often that a novel comes along that makes everyone in the publishing house stop, read and fall in love with it. It's not often that we get to publish a novel which has been the subject of a major bidding war and will be published simultaneously by Faber in the UK and Farrar, Straus & Giroux in the US. It's not often that we get a novel like The Anchoress. Set in the twelfth century, The Anchoress tells the story of Sarah, only seventeen when she chooses to become an anchoress, a holy woman shut away in a small cell, measuring seven paces by nine, 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 and service to God. But as she slowly begins to understand, even the thick, unforgiving walls of her cell cannot keep the outside world away, and it is soon clear that Sarah's body and soul are still in great danger... Robyn Cadwallader writes: 'Who was she? Why did she choose enclosure? Was she afraid, excited, certain, doubtful? What about her family? And what would this small dark place be like as a home? In my mind, I went inside the cell. What was her experience: bodily, emotionally, spiritually, mentally? She was no longer just a weird idea; she was a woman. Sarah. My anchoress.' Sometimes freedom means locking yourself away...

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