The Apostate’s Tale

Written by Margaret Frazer
Review by Patrika Salmon

Margaret Frazer improves with each book. This is her seventeenth Dame Frevisse novel, and it has more depth then some of the earlier ones. Here we find Dame Frevisse in her home convent in Northamptonshire in the spring of 1452. The struggle to keep the under-funded convent thriving with such a small population of nuns is just one of the details which make the story seem real.

What happens to nuns at the end of a long and lean Lent, a time of their lowest strength, when an apostate arrives? This apostate was once their Sister Cecely, before she ran off with a man; now she’s back, nine years later, with her son. Her man has died and she is seeking sanctuary from his family—or so she says. But when the family arrives, armed and threatening, it seems there was at least one other side to the story. As the nuns struggle to find time to rejoice for Easter and find the truth about their apostate, Cecely manages to unsettle each woman, filling some with doubt and others with emotions best not let loose in a convent. Then the poisonings begin. It is up to Dame Frevisse to sort it all out, not an easy task.

A well written mediaeval mystery, and a good read.