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The Fire and the Rose

Robyn Cadwallader



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03 May 2023
From Robyn Cadwallader, the award-winning and critically acclaimed author of The Anchoress and Book of Colours, comes a vibrant, richly imagined and deeply moving novel set in the turbulent world of thirteenth-century England.

Longlisted for the 2023 ARA Historical Novel Prize.

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 to women.

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. When Eleanor is pulled into the dark depths of the church's machinations against Jews and 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 how language, words and books have the power to change and shape lives. Most powerfully, it is also a novel about what it is to be made 'other', to be exiled from home and family. But it is also 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.


'It is hard to convey, in a short review, the richness and the emotional depth of this story, and the power of the history it covers.' The Newtown Review of Books

'The medieval walled city of Lincoln comes alive again in this astonishingly immersive novel. As readers, we walk the streets, smell the market, sense the sneering whispers and hear the stones speak. The sensuous story of Asher and Eleanor's love, forbidden by laws separating Jews and Christians, carries Cadwallader's reach of history like a laser. A thrilling read' - Biff Ward, author of The Third Chopstick

'A heartbreakingly timeless tale, richly imagined and wondrously alive; every sentence yearns for a better way for humans to be together. No one writes with compassion and empathy quite like Robyn Cadwallader, and few can match her ability to move readers to their core. Unforgettable' - Nigel Featherstone, author of My Heart Is a Little Wild Thing

'Luminous, lyrical and deeply moving, Cadwallader's writing fills the senses and sings with detail and authenticity. A compelling story of love, resilience and hope in the face of oppression and racism, alive with imagery. I loved this book' - Karen Viggers, author of The Orchardist's Daughter

'A remarkable, profound story ... Cadwallader recreates the medieval world with the rigour of a scholar and the intensity and emotion of a poet. I deliberately read this novel slowly, to savour it, and I know I won't forget it' - Lee Kofman, author of The Writer Laid Bare

'The Fire and the Rose brings the divided medieval city of Lincoln to life in wonderful detail. A tale of prejudice, violence and exile but also of love, illustrating the power of words, language and story to shape our lives' - Inga Simpson, author of Willowman

'More than a love story, it is an ambitious novel spanning the 15 years that saw the persecution of the Jews by the English King intensify ... a beautifully written, thought-provoking exploration of prejudice towards minorities, an issue that is as relevant today as it was in the 13th century.' Canberra Times


'Robyn Cadwallader fashions words with the same delicate, colourful intensity that her 14th century illuminators brought to their illustrated manuscripts.' Sarah Dunant

'Book of Colours shows the depth of possibility a book might hold - all the while shimmering with the beauty and fragility of an ancient gilded page.' Eleanor Limprecht

'Elegant and eloquent' Irish Mail

'Cadwallader's writing evokes a heightened attention to the senses: you might never read a novel so sensuous yet unconcerned with romantic love. For this alone it is worth seeking out. But also because The Anchoress achieves what every historical novel attempts: reimagining the past while opening a new window - like a squint, perhaps - to our present lives.' Sydney Morning Herald

'A novel of page-turning grace' Newtown Review of Books

Imprint:   HARPER360
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 155mm,  Spine: 30mm
Weight:   506g
ISBN:   9781460752227
ISBN 10:   1460752228
Pages:   304
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Robyn Cadwallader lives among vineyards in beautiful Ngunnawal country. Her first novel, The Anchoress (2015), was published internationally to critical acclaim. It won a Canberra Critics' Circle Award for fiction and was nominated for the Indie Book Awards, Adelaide Festival Awards, ABIA Awards and ACT Book of the Year Award. Her second novel, Book of Colours (2018), won the 2019 ACT Book of the Year Award, received a Canberra Critics' Circle Award and was shortlisted for the Voss Award. Her reviews, prize-winning short stories and poems have been published in journals in Australia and the USA; her poetry collection, i painted unafraid, was released in 2010. A non-fiction book based on her PhD thesis about virginity and female agency in the Middle Ages was published in 2008. In response to the Australian government's punitive treatment of asylum seekers, she edited a collection of essays on asylum seeker policy, We Are Better Than This (2015).

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