by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Honestly, this book literally put me to sleep more nights than not. It’s very hard to keep all the nuns straight and the story just meanders. A convent is founded in 1163. We begin following it in earnest in the 14th century, through a multitude of prioresses. A main character and constant throughout is Sir Ralph, a passing beggar who for reasons even he doesn’t understand passes himself off as a priest, and lives as the convent priest for the rest of his life. This at least provides a unifying thread through all the cast of nuns who die as frequently as they are introduced.
Couple of good sample quotes:
“To be traveling through this landscape so full of plenty and variety was like turning the pages of an illuminated psalter.”
“But no summer is so long, so wide, as the summer before it. Time, a river, hollows out its bed and every year the river flows in a narrower channel and flows faster.”