This article examines reading, attachment, and the restoration of female voices in Michelle Paver's Wakenhyrst, a 2019 novel inspired by the fifteenth-century mystic and author, Margery Kempe. The article foregrounds and analyses the author’s own response to the novel and to Paver's comments about Kempe from the perspective of Rita Felski's work on art and attachment (2020) and in the context of Carolyn Dinshaw's reading of Hope Emily Allen's championing of Margery Kempe (2012). Underpinned by a framework that draws on medievalism studies (particularly Katherine Brown's concept of 'restoration'), the article explores the ways in which Paver's two readers in her novel (editor Edmund Stearne and his daughter Maud) respond to the discovery of Alice Pyett's “Book” (the fictional book based on Book of Margery Kempe) in increasingly polarized ways: Stearne's identification leading to madness and Maud's to increasing autonomy and independence as a woman of her time. The article argues that in Paver's dramatization of Maud's developing reading practice, Kempe-as-Pyett inspires a feminist reclamation of women's voices and stories that encourage the modern academic reader to similarly reflect on their own response to Kempe's status, in both scholarly and popular culture.
Margery Kempe, Wakenhyrst, Michelle Paver, medievalism studies, water studies, feminism, reading, attachment
Varnam, Laura "Reading The Books of Margery Kempe and Alice Pyett: Attachment and Feminist Restoration in Michelle Paver's "Wakenhyrst"." Medieval Feminist Forum: A Journal of Gender and Sexuality 59, No. 1 (2023)