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Book Review: For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy on My Little Pain – Victoria MacKenzie


Complete with its incredibly wordy title, For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy on My Little Pain is a wonderful debut.


Victoria MacKenzie for Bloomsbury – October 2022 – © Julie Broadfoot


Both epic and intimate, the book explores grief, trauma, revelation, and discusses what happened when women communicated the voice of God in the 1400s. Debut novelist Victoria MacKenzie will turn heads in 2023 with this intriguing historical and rhythmic read.

Set in 1413, this novel sees a pivotal meeting of two female mystics from the Middle Ages. Margery Kempe has left her fourteen children and abusive husband behind to make her journey to meet Julian of Norwich, an anchoress withdrawn from the secular world. Margery has visions of Christ that not only get her into trouble with her husband, but also the men of the church, who denounce her visions as heresy.

Julian of Norwich, in contrast to Margery Kempe, has told no one of her own visions, but must soon. The meeting of these two incredible women recalls the threat men felt from women preachers, and the many adversities they faced. Told via a narrative structure that feels jarring at first, it’s not long before the reader acclimatises to the rhythm of the novel as the women get closer and closer to meeting. An intriguing concept and brilliant debut from Victoria MacKenzie, as she brings strong female characters to the fore.

For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy on My Little Pain is out 19th January, published by Bloomsbury

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