A Cold Wind Blowing

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Unobjectionable

In Brief: Personal religious difficulties in post-Reformation England, including the marrying of professed Religious. Goodhearted generosity in a difficult situation.

Author: Barbara Willard

Age Range: Mid Teens

Period: 16th C

Genres:  HistoricalRomanticThought-provoking


Piers Medley, a young Sussex forester at the time of the Reformation, takes in a girl whom he rescues from vagabonds. They marry. At the same time, the religious houses are being sacked, and the religious in them sent out into the world or burnt for heresy and treason. There is issue as to whether the defrocked religious may remarry or not. A relative of Piers' neighbours is arrested, at which Piers' wife Isabella reveals that she was a Carmelite novice. They both run away to Kent where she has his child. The story ends in tragedy when she is frightened by hearing the name of one the leading persecutors of the Church and runs away. Piers goes after her, but she is out of her mind with shock and plunges to her death. Piers takes his daughter back home to Sussex.


The book's setting at the time of the reformation is essential, given the plot device of religious returning to the world, but leads to some very dodgy attitudes: the talk of vows being “absolved” as if they were sins; the impression at the end of the Catholic faith leading the girl to despair of her own life; certain other attitudes put in the mouths of common people to do with their allegiance and faith. Clearly the people of the time - and the religious in particular - would have been in an unusually difficult situation. Nevertheless, to base the plot of such a romance on the particular difficulties of one person seems irresponsible.

Tuesday 1st January 2002