Book Review: ‘For thy great pain have mercy on my little pain’ by Victoria Mackenzie
ERMC Chaplain Cathy Michell has been fascinated by Victoria Mackenzie’s new book and thoroughly recommends it.
“At the last Eucharist our course held at Belsey Bridge Conference Centre in Suffolk, I spoke about the large painting that hung behind the altar in the chapel there. The painting is of the ‘shewings’ or revelatory visions experienced by the mystic Julian of Norwich. I attempted to give an account of Julian’s social context, her life and the book she famously wrote, the first ever recorded by a woman. If, like me, you are fascinated by this period and by Mother Julian herself, then Victoria Mackenzie’s first novel may be for you.
“There are already many good reviews of this book online, but I would nevertheless love to draw your attention to this novel. Based on B.A. Windeatt’s translation of The Book of Margery Kempe and Elizabeth Spearing’s translation of Revelations of Divine Love, it was published earlier this year. I recommend you to buy and read it, particularly if you are interested in the medieval mystics, or especially in those, like Julian of Norwich or Margery Kempe, whose own books revealed their challenging spiritual journey and their lives as women in the C13-14th – rare female voices from this period.
“This book is not only beautifully written and a very absorbing read, it also sheds light on the character and experiences of two very different characters who the novel brings to life for us by means of short alternating sections in their contrasting voices; Julian the anchoress, composed, cool and controlled, looking back on half a life time immured in her Norwich cell; Margaret the mother of at least 14 children, restive, fragile, publicity seeking, boastful and outrageous, who somehow managed to talk her way out of several charges of heresy. By this means the author reveals to us the inner workings and spiritual struggles of these two women whilst bringing the tale of their lives to the moment when they meet each other, enter into conversation and, through the veiled window of Julian’s cell, find a strange unity of faith.”
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