Changing Roles of Woman

Susan B. Anthony

“Because you are women, people will force their thinking on you, their boundaries on you. They will tell you how to dress, how to behave, who you can meet and where you can go. Don’t live in the shadows of people’s judgement. Make your own choices in the light of your own wisdom.” ~ Amitabh Bachchan

“No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men.” ~ Muhammad Ali Jinnah

The other day as I was working on Time’s Echo, I realized I have too much story to tell in this second book. So, I’m going to need to write a third book in the series.

Time’s Echo is about Jenna’s involvement in the current women’s movement, and Morgan’s decision to become a suffragist in the past. Because of the subject matter and my research, I’ve been thinking about how many decades, and even centuries women have been attempting to gain the same rights that men have.

We modern women often think women throughout the ages suffered suppression at the hands of all men all the time. I don’t think that’s a completely accurate picture. Women have been quite resourceful and found ways to accomplish their goals, and to carve out fulfilling lives for themselves. It’s just that in these modern times the clearly defined roles men and women used to perform have blurred and in a situation like that interpersonal relationships can get messy.

Because of the work I’m doing on my book, I’ve been noticing women characters in the movies I watch and the books I read.

Recently I’ve been hooked on The Cadfael Chronicles mystery series. This series takes place during the 1140s and was written by Ellis Peters. The main character, Cadfael, is a sixty something Welsh monk living at the monastery at Shrewsbury, England on the Welsh border. The interesting thing about him is that before he became a monk, he was a crusader in the Middle East, and a ship’s captain eventually deciding to settle down to a quieter life as a monk.

However, it turns out trouble often finds Cadfael in the form of murders, thefts, or mysteries to be solved. Since he is the monastery herbalist, and has seen many dead and dying people, he’s the perfect person for Hugh Berignar, the Deputy Sheriff, and later in the series Sheriff, of the shire to consult during the investigations of the crimes.

The thing that I have found extremely interesting about this series is the way most of Peter’s female characters manage to get exactly what they want by standing up for themselves. In one of the books, the thief and murderer turns out to be a woman. She’s a sympathetic character, though, because her father never showed her any love. He gave it all to her spoiled brother. She was denied the chance to marry and have a household of her own, because her mother had died and her father insisted she run his household. She loses her position when her brother marries. So she steals a fortune from her father in order to begin a new life. It’s tragic what happens to her. Yet in almost every other book, the women characters take great risks for the people they love.

In book eleven, An Excellent Mystery, a young woman, Julian, takes it upon herself to become her betrothed’s constant companion and nurse, when he comes home from the Crusades severely injured. He is now unable to have children and declares she is free to marry another as he is going to become a monk. Instead of marrying again, she declares that she wishes to become a nun. She rides off with an escort and her father’s blessing. He dies shortly after. Her half-brother doesn’t give her another thought as he takes over management of the manor and the family holdings.

But, a mystery is about to unfold when Brother Humilis, the former Godfrid Marescot and Julian’s betrothed, arrives at Shrewsbury monastery seeking a new community after his former monastery was destroyed by war. He has with him a young monk, Brother Fidelis, who is his constant companion. It is obvious to Cadfael, that Brother Humilis is slowly dying from his wounds.

Not long after his arrival at Shrewsbury, one of Godfrid’s former comrades in war, Nicholas, arrives asking permission of his former commander to court the woman he was betrothed to. He was taken with her when he delivered the news about Godfrid’s terrible injury. However, when he arrives at her former home, he discovers that she has taken the veil. Yet, her convent has also been burned to the ground in the midst of the civil war fighting between the Empress Maud and her cousin King Stephen. So, Nicholas goes in search of her and can’t find a trace. Everyone assumes she’s dead.

Spoiler alert here just in case you choose to read the book, I’m giving away details of the story.

Peters unfolds the mystery of what happened to Julian Cruce in very subtle ways. The day I realized that Brother Fidelis was in fact Julian, I couldn’t wait to see how she would be able to go back to her former life, without being imprisoned and/or excommunicated.

What made this story so satisfying for me was the relationship between Godfrid and Julian. Even though she had met him only once, she felt herself bound to him no matter what injuries he’d suffered. She took the steps necessary to be able to care for him. Through the years of being his nurse and constant companion the two developed a deep and holy kind of love for each other. In the end just before Godfrid’s death, he reveals that he knows who Julian is, and that he loves her. Cadfael, of course, finds a way to help Julian return from the dead to resume her former life.

Julian’s story affected me on a deep emotional level. How many of us would give up everything to risk imprisonment and excommunication for a person we loved? Julian does this with no qualms, knowing that she will probably pay a heavy price. But fortunately, she meets kind and caring men who are on her side and help her make the transition back into her old self. The love she exhibits affects other characters in the book. Everyone who observes the two monks together are affected by their devotion to one another. A fellow monk who’s wife had betrayed him is healed by her selfless act. I’m always touched by such stories. This seemingly insignificant mystery series shows just how complex women are. I love that.

I’m excited to see what will happen in our country now that we have so many women taking their place in our government at the federal and state levels. I hope they will act out of love for our country and humanity.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it very much. Have a fabulous weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Published by lucindasagemidgorden

I grew up in the West, the descendant of people traveling by wagon train to a new life. Some of their determination and wanderlust became a part of me. I imagine them sitting around the campfire telling stories, which is why I became first a theatre artist, then a teacher and now a writer. They are all ways of telling stories.

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