From Robyn Cadwallader, the award-winning and critically acclaimed author of The Anchoress and Book of Colours, comes The Fire and the Rose, a vibrant, richly-imagined and deeply moving novel set in the turbulent world of 13th century England.
England, 1276: Forced to leave her home village, Eleanor moves to Lincoln to work as a housemaid. She’s prickly, independent and stubborn, her prospects blighted by a port wine birthmark across her face. Unusually for a woman, she has fine skills with ink and quill, and harbours a secret ambition to work as a scribe, a profession closed against women.
But Eleanor discovers that Lincoln is a dangerous place, divided by religious prejudice, the Jews frequently the focus of violence and forced to wear a yellow badge. Eleanor falls in love with Asher, a Jewish spicer, who shares her love of books and words, but their relationship is forbidden by law. A priest threatens to expose her, and she is pulled into the dark depths of the church’s machinations against Jews – and when the King issues an edict expelling all Jews from England, Eleanor and Asher are faced with an impossible choice.
Vivid, rich, deep and sensual, The Fire and the Rose is a tender and moving novel about the love of the written word, and how language, words and books have the power to change and shape lives. It is also a novel about what it is to be made ‘other’, to be exiled from home and family. Most powerfully, it is a call to recognise how much we need the other, the one we do not understand, making it a strikingly resonant and powerfully hopeful novel for our times.