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What to expect

Marj Charlier’s The Rebel Nun is based on the true story of Clotild, the daughter of a sixth-century king and his concubine, who leads a rebellion of nuns against the rising misogyny and patriarchy of the medieval church.

At that time, women are afforded few choices in life: prostitution, motherhood, or the cloister. Only the latter offers them any kind of independence. By the end of the sixth century, even this is eroding as the church begins to eject women from the clergy and declares them too unclean to touch sacramental objects or even their priest-husbands.

Craving the legitimacy thwarted by her bastard status, Clotild seeks to become the next abbess of the female Monastery of the Holy Cross, the most famous of the women’s cloisters of the early Middle Ages. When the bishop of Poitiers blocks her appointment and seeks to control the nunnery himself, Clotild masterminds an escape, leading a group of nuns on a dangerous pilgrimage to beg her royal relatives to intercede on their behalf. But the bishop refuses to back down, and a bloody battle ensues. Will Clotild and her sisters succeed with their quest, or will they face excommunication, possibly even death?

In the only historical novel written about the incident, The Rebel Nun is a richly imagined story about a truly remarkable heroine.

Critics Review

  • “Charlier draws on history not only for details about the real Clotild but also for the circumstances of women in a time of growing religious misogyny, and that is what makes The Rebel Nun so impactful…Charlier writes vividly about an appalling time when women were little more than chattel. With its rich liturgical and feminist detail, The Rebel Nun is a story of an age-old rebellion that speaks to today’s women.”

    Denver Post
  • “Marj Charlier takes an obscure sixth-century tale and turns it into a stunning story of a nun caught up in the misogyny of the early Christian church. Led by Clotild, a king’s bastard daughter, a group of nuns attempts to rescue their monastery from the all-male church hierarchy. Extensively researched and rich in historical detail, The Rebel Nun tells of a time when women were chattel, when priests questioned whether females had souls. Charlier’s artfully written account of Clotild’s struggle to save her medieval sisterhood from the dominance of kings and bishops is a perfect novel for today’s women.”

    Sandra Dallas, New York Times bestselling author
  • The Rebel Nun is a gripping, well-told story of women fighting against a church and society dominated by men who are determined to defeat them in body and spirit. A great tale that will immerse you in a world so different—and not so different—from our own.”

    Philip Freeman, Fletcher Jones Chair of Western Culture at Pepperdine University, author of Saint Brigid's Bones
  • “A startling look into a world I never imagined visiting—a sixth-century nunnery, where one bride of Christ only a generation away from paganism breaks her vows of obedience to the church’s male hierarchy and makes it her mission to battle the corruption of bishops oppressing the sisters of the Holy Cross. A well-wrought yarn reflective of historical fact.”

    Darryl Ponicsán, author of Eternal Sojourners
  • The Rebel Nun is a gripping tale of heroism and audacity in the least likely of guises—a renowned cloister under the heel of the medieval church. With meticulous research and in exacting detail, Marj Charlier brings to light the remarkable exploits of Clotild, who leads her fellow sisters on a daring escape that culminates in bloody revolt, and a place in history.”

    Denise Heinze, author of The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew
  • The Rebel Nun is a wildly original, suspenseful account of a group of nuns in medieval France who must endure hardships and treachery from both outside and within their walls. It feels both historically authentic and startlingly contemporary, and I loved every word of it.”

    Elizabeth Stuckey-French, author of The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady

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