Cordially Yours, Brother Cadfaelby Anne K Kaler
Detective, monk, father, herbalist, Crusader, sailor, Celt, friend—author Ellis Peters bestows all these attributes on her twelfth-century Benedictine monk-detective Brother Cadfael. As a detective, Cadfael uses his analytic mind to solve crimes and administer justice. As a man of God, he also dispenses mercy along with his famous cordials.
Why, essays ask, is a cloistered monk solving murders? How can an author combine a valid detective and an effective healer?
- University of Wisconsin Press
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- Product dimensions:
- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.34(d)
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Readers of the Cadfael Chronicles will enjoy these ten short, academic style reviews of the series. Some familiarity with the novels is essential if not to know the plots and main characters (Abbot Radulfus, Sheriff Hugh Beringer, Prior Robert and Brother Jerome) to then at least have some feeling for the nature and personality of Brother Cadfael himself. All of the contributors to this collection are in agreement that Edith Pargeter (writing under the pseudonym of Ellis Peters) has done a brilliant job in recreating life in the 12th century, staying true to the history and culture of this far away time, while creating a series of mystery stories that are just fun to read. A few of the essays particularly stood out for me. Judith Kollmann of the University of Michigan-Flint provides a fascinating review of the history of Benedictine monasticism and how it figures into the chronicles. Marcia Songer of East Tennessee State University discusses the conflict between King Stephen and Queen Maud that provide the background for many of the Chronicles. And Margaret Baker (of Brigham Young University) reviews many of the herbs and curatives used by Brother Cadfael along with providing a commentary on their efficacy and use today. Ms. Peters received high marks from all of the contributors for doing her homework on these and other aspects touched upon in the essays. All of which to is to say that reading these short pieces will greatly add to the enjoyment of rereading the Chronicles…in fact, I think I’ll revisit ‘A Morbid Taste for Bones’ (the first chronicle) this evening! [As an aside…I would have liked to have seen a discussion evaluating how well the popular UK television series did in portraying the world of Brother Cadfael. I found the movies greatly abbreviated and lacking in texture relative to the stories on which they were based. But I still envision Derek Jacobi as Cadfael when I read the books! ]