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For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy On My Little Pain

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It is an extraordinary feat of historical ventriloquism; the women’s inner lives, their religiosity, their sense of place in the world is miraculously conjured … This novel is brilliantly done.

There is so much that separates me from these women, not only time but also circumstance and religion, and yet, their thoughts seemed so relatable. A very quickly digested book, told in two voices, that of Julian of Norwich, an anchoress who has taken a vow to stay in a cell attached to a church, and Margery Kempe, who hears and sees holy visions. Interestingly, these women did meet in real life, and the latter part of the book deftly imagines their conversation.Short chapters alternate between the bold, self-aggrandising Margery and the educated, introspective Julian, their stories cleverly twining about each other. The book was recommended to me by Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer - who also lent me his copy, and his review captures more of the novel. Both women left a record of their thoughts, Julia in Revelations of Divine Thought and Margery in The Book of Margery Kempe.

However, for me the narrative was disappointing and didn’t fully encapsulate how incredible these women were nor the struggles they went to; I was expecting a much more visceral take on their stories. And so sche dede and schewyd hir the grace that God put in hir sowle of compunccyon, contricyon, swetnesse and devocyon, compassyon wyth holy meditacyon and hy contemplacyon, and ful many holy spechys and dalyawns that owyr Lord spak to hir sowle, and many wondirful revelacyons whech sche schewyd to the ankres to wetyn yf ther wer any deceyte in hem, for the ankres was expert in swech thyngys and good cownsel cowd gevyn. Margery’s loneliness and vulnerability come into relief as she struggles with the lack of power and authority that all women suffered during the period, her obedience to men expected in both church and family. I had wanted to prolong each moment of my life, to get closer to experiencing time as God experiences it: not the instantly dissolving moment, but something larger and more encompassing.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. Book Review: For Thy Great Pain have Mercy on My Little Pain by Victoria MacKenzie (Bloomsbury, published 19/1/2023) Mother Julian with her pet cat (yes, this is explicitly allowed to an anchoress!

Due religiose sensibili ed estreme che trovano finalmente il loro spazio in "Abbi pietà del mio piccolo dolore".The invisible balancing and weighing MacKenzie has done across the whole to bring them dialogue with each other and to bring the reader into emotional and spiritual connectedness with them is just so brilliant. I remember the little red publications handed out at church telling stories of devout, celibate Catholics who went about their daily work in the world but secretly mortified their flesh with spiked scapulars, put stones in their boots, and fasted endlessly.

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