Marie is seventeen and a giant of a woman, taller and broader and stronger than those around her. It is 1158, and she has been exiled to a royal abbey where she is expected to serve as prioress. The abbey is neglected and poor, the nuns half-starved, and she nearly succumbs to dispair. But she renews herself, and renews the abbey, and over a lifetime builds a stunning and ambitious monument to the power and strength of women working hand in hand. Viewed from the perspective of most of her contemporaries, her faith will be seen as aberrant, even dangerous. But from this reader’s standpoint, it’s mesmerizing and hopeful and deeply resonant.