I came across The Corner That Held Them in a bookstore my wife and I came across while wandering the tiny downtown of Montrose, CA on a recent scouting trip to Los Angeles. I had never heard of the book before, or the author, but something about it grabbed my attention and the first few pages were brilliant, so I carried it back to Austin with me. I’m glad I did.
The Corner That Held Them is a historical fiction novel, but we spend the entire novel in the day-to-day lives of the nuns of a backwater convent in England around the time of the Black Death. There is very little plot, and characters come and go quickly, rising to prominence (or not) in the convent and passing away, violently or of old age. The details are what matter. There is sharp, biting humor, beautiful prose, and an incredibly rich imagining of what it was like to live a quiet, religious life in a time of tremendous social change.