Anchoress of Shere is a compelling crime story, set in two different centuries. It depicts the story of a beautiful woman, Christine, as she is walled up alive in a church. The location is Shere in the County of Surrey, England. The historical records, which still exist, put the date at 1329.
The twentieth-century chronicler of the fate of Christine Carpenter, the Anchoress of Shere, is a deranged Catholic priest, Father Michael Duval. Gradually, two separate sagas unfold: the bizarre world of the Middle Ages centred on Christine’s entombment, and the abduction of a young woman, Marda Stewart, in Guildford, Surrey, in 1967.
In a series of exotic twists the medieval world of knights, debauchery, peasant uprisings and civil war merges into a modern hunt for a serial killer. The final piece of the puzzle is discovered in the late 1990s.
The tragedy of the anchoress is based upon historical fact, yet it is also an exploration of the most dramatic themes of today: the power of belief, sexual freedom, spiritual bondage and the individual search for self-fulfillment.
Above all, this is a gripping adventure story of a love so obsessive that it spans more than six hundred years.
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Dr. Paul L. Moorcraft, a former war correspondent and film-producer, has written a series of books on politics, military and crime. After twenty-five years of travelling, he settled in Shere to write this book. His autobiographical Guns & Poses: Travels with an Occasional War Correspondent was published in 2001.Review:
This exceptional thriller from British author Moorcraft, a film producer and former war correspondent, exhibits a rare quality of intelligence and imagination, with a remarkable depth of feeling for the book's characters and their predicaments. Be forewarned that there's nothing cozy, or comforting about this engrossing, subtle historical, which centers on a spiritual quest into Christian mysticism and smoothly alternates between past and present. In 1329, Christine Carpenter, an actual personage who lived in the village of Shere in the Surrey woodlands, had herself walled up in a church cell to live out her remaining days in prayer and meditation. In our own time, scholars have come to the village to study the legendary "Anchoress of Shere" to try to understand her drastic decision. Among them is Father Michael Duval, whose interest in Christine's story has grown into a psychotic obsession. Duval has kidnapped and killed six young women in an attempt to reproduce his crazed image of Christine. Now he has seized another victim, Marda Stewart, a bright and courageous lady who knows her only chance to survive is to play an intellectual cat-and-mouse game with her maniacal captor. The resultant suspense will keep the reader riveted to the very end of this brilliantly original tale.-Publishers Weekly starred review
"Anchoress of Shere" by Paul Moorcraft is a wondrously intricate tale of religious fervor gone
horribly wrong that seamlessly weaves back and forth between a present-day deranged English priest and a 14th-century peasant girl who literally gives her body to the Church.
Sexually brutalized by the local lord shortly before her wedding, young Christine Carpenter lingers near death for a month, suffering from what villagers call a "sickness of the soul." But as Father Peter performs extreme unction, Christine sees a live Christ
figure with bleeding hands and feet on the cross held above her face, and rallies. Vowing to serve only God, she breaks off her engagement and asks to be sealed into the walls of her local church where she vows to spend the rest of her life in service to God as the anchoress of her village of Shere. Her only contact with the outside world is through a
small grille in her cell-like room that looks out into the church proper.
Some six hundred years later Christine's voluntary entombment totally consumes a fortyish priest who is writing her story. In order to fully understand Christine, Father Michael Duval has kidnapped and
emtombed alive five young women in cells below his house, hoping to learn through them what Christine gained out of her extreme exile from life. The first five women, however, are not equal to the task and
Duval turns his back on them, leaving them to die of thirst. He has much higher hopes for his newest captive, Marda Stewart, a young wine importer recently arrived in Shere.
This is not a book for the squeamish. Both eras offer up examples of man's inhumanity to man, although Duval's depraved, yet emotionless, brutality seems far more terrible than the actions of the 14th century peasants who passionately tear into the
drawn-and-quartered remains of a hated lord. Yet, as terrible as those scenes are, this is a book for the mind, an intelligently told story that seeks to find answers to the unanswerable. -Denver Post
In the English town of Shere, Father Duval writes the biography of Christine Carpenter, the titular anchoress, but his subject’s attractions discombobulate his mind. With so little evidence available, he decides to embroider her story by adding sodomy and rape to the mix, calling it “selective reinterpretation.” But then he steps over the edge, both in writing and in life: he kidnaps a young woman and immures her, like Christine, in a dark, dungeonlike stone cell, claiming that it is God’s will. This young woman, however, has a clever brother. First published in Britain, this intense, fascinating look at religious dementia is based on a medieval legend. Moorcraft is a former war correspondent and film producer. Strongly recommended for most collections.-Library Journal
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Book Description Poisoned Pen Press, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M1590580281
Book Description Poisoned Pen Press, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX1590580281