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Red-Robed Priestess: A Novel (The Maeve Chronicles) Hardcover – November 8, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"With Red-Robed Priestess, Cunningham, a storyteller as crafty as J.K. Rowling, ends the Maeve Chronicles befittingly and beautifully, with a fourth novel as fully fruited as the first."--Publisher's Weekly

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"With Red-Robed Priestess, Cunningham, a storyteller as crafty as J.K. Rowling, ends the Maeve Chronicles befittingly and beautifully, with a fourth novel as fully fruited as the first."--Publisher's Weekly

After a life of passion and adventure that has brought her through slavery to the Resurrection garden, through the controversies of the Early Church to a hermit cave in southern gaul, Maeve, the Celtic Mary Magdalen, returns to the Holy Isles accompanied by Sarah, her daughter with Jesus. Their mission: to find Maeve's first-born child, stolen from her by the druids more than forty years ago.

Since then, Maeve's homeland has suffered it's own trials--Roman invasion and occupation. The Celtic tribes to the east and south are under direct rule, and the Romans are determined to rout the resistance of the western tribes, resistance fueled by the druids of Mona.

Just before she crosses the channel from Gaul to Britain, Maeve encounters a man she mistakes for Jesus's ghost. This familiar stranger is equally haunted, and the two are drawn into a moonstruck liason that will entwine their lives in "an impossible Celtic knot." For unbeknownst to Maeve at the time, he is none other than General Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, the newly-appointed Roman Governor of Britain.

Maeve keeps this troubling tryst a secret even after she finds her long-lost daughter Boudica, the fierce and charismatic queen of the Iceni tribe. Druid-trained in her youth, Boudica married the Iceni king, hoping to rally him to a rebellion for which he has no stomach. Now estranged from her husband, Boudica keeps the old ways, sustained by her pride in her descent form her father (and Maeve's!) the late great druid Lovernios.

Seeking to circumvent disaster, Maeve travels back and forth from Iceni country to Mona, from the heart of native resistance to a Roman fort on the Western front, steadfast in her conviction: "Love is as strong as death."

In this final volume of the acclaimed Maeve Chronicles, Maeve confronts a political and emotional complexity that speaks to our times. Her courageous and compassionate witness of an epic tragedy will challenge and comfort all of us who have ever faced intractable circumstances of our own.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Maeve Chronicles (Book 4)
  • Hardcover: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Monkfish Book Publishing; First Edition edition (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982324693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982324691
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,061,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Elizabeth Cunningham is the direct descendant of nine generations of Episcopal priests. She grew up hearing rich (sometimes terrifying) liturgical and biblical language. When she was not in church or school, she read fairytales and fantasy novels or wandered in the enchanted wood of an overgrown, abandoned estate next door to the rectory. Her religious background, the magic of fairytales, and the numinous experience of nature continue to inform her work.

After being altogether too good and studious during her earliest years, Cunningham was expelled from a progressive boarding school for nudity. She subsequently earned a GED and went on to The College of General Studies at Boston University. From there she transferred to Harvard-Radcliffe College where she graduated in 1976 with BA in English and American language and literature. Somehow, she resisted the temptation to go to seminary to study for the Episcopal priesthood. The possibility was especially tempting, because, at that time, ordination of women was not allowed. When the church ruled in favor of women's ordination a few months later, she heaved a sigh of relief and went on writing The Wild Mother, her first novel, hailed by Publishers Weekly as a beguiling tour de force.

The Passion of Mary Magdalen, the centerpiece of The Maeve Chronicles, is Cunningham's fifth novel, and the book she believes she was born to write. Her other novels include The Return of the Goddess, a Divine Comedy; The Wild Mother; and How to Spin Gold, a Woman's Tale (re-released by Epigraph, May 2009). Magdalen Rising, the prequel to The Passion of Mary Magdalen was published in 2007. Bright Dark Madonna, the sequel, was published in April 2009. Red-Robed Priestess, the fourth and final Maeve Chronicle, was published in Novemeber, 2011.

Cunningham is also the author of two collections of poetry Small Bird, and Wild Mercy.

Although Cunningham managed to avoid becoming an Episcopal priest, she graduated from The New Seminary in 1997 and was ordained as an interfaith minister and counselor. Both The Maeve Chronicles and her interfaith ministry express Cunningham's profound desire to reconcile her Christian roots with her call to explore the divine feminine.

Since her ordination, Cunningham has been in private practice as a counselor and maintains that the reading and writing of novels has been as important to this work as her seminary training.

The mother of grown children, Cunningham lives with her husband in the Hudson Valley.

Elizabeth (and Maeve, the Celtic Mary Magdalen) can be followed on twitter, on her blog and on facebook. The links follow:

http://elizabethandmaeve.blogspot.com/

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=61625329756&ref=ts

http://twitter.com/EliznMaeve

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Susan Corso on November 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Red-Robed Priestess is Maeve Rhuad's last adventure. And oh, what an adventure it is! As I'm sure you know, I've been a fan of Maeve Rhuad for a long, long time.

For those of you who don't know, Maeve Rhuad is Elizabeth Cunningham's delightfully irreverent holy whore, the Celtic Mary Magdalene. This book is the fourth in a tetralogy that takes the reader from Tir na mBan where Maeve is raised by eight warrior-witch mothers to Mona (Anglesey) where she is banished beyond the Ninth Wave to meeting with her Beloved Esus to the daughter Sarah they have together and, of course (because this is how all Celtic stories are), back to Mona.

In the time it has taken Elizabeth Cunningham to be the vessel for this outrageous Maeve, I have both met Elizabeth and come to know her a bit. She is every bit as outré as Maeve if slightly quieter about it.

This is the story of Maeve's coming full circle; she returns to Britain to find the daughter the Druids ripped from her arms decades earlier. With her, among others, is her daughter with Esus, Sarah. On the eve of her return, connection/soul/karma makes Maeve risk an assignation with a Roman general, an enemy. That linking is the scaffolding of the story. The two revolve around one another much like two suns.

The morning after ... he captures Maeve and her party, and he asks her, his enemy, to see for him. What she sees would freeze champagne. They both go forward in their destinies; Maeve, to Avalon; the general to create the infrastructure that will let him win the dreadful battle Maeve has foreseen.

Maeve's welcome at Avalon is far from guaranteed. In fact, there is some question as to whether she will be allowed to return or be jailed for her ancient infraction.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By deeda on February 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
i thoroughly enjoyed, it tied the loose ends of the previous 3 books with a very satisfying ending. a great series of books. this is a series of books so different from most fiction, taking the story of jesus and maeve at times what could be called irreverent yet a story so human, so intense, with such depth of love in relationships you love all the characters and their flaws and eccentricities. her other books do not compare to this series.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mick McAllister on November 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Maeve Chronicles has been a long journey I'm happy to have been on. The last book, Red-Robed Priestess, is mercifully short (I lived in dread of dropping The Passion of Mary Magdalene on my foot). It covers one last year of Mary/Maeve's life, carrying us up to and through Boudica's Rebellion. There are some strange elements in it, such as the love affair with Suetonius (who is, by the way, the OTHER Suetonius, I learned, not the writer) and the peculiar notion that (1) he was the father of the Roman Procurator who precipitated Boudica's war with an act of souless barbarism and (2) he was the half-brother of Jesus (their common ancestor being, presumably, the centurion Pantera, but that's another story). And the New Age elements have jostled their way into the foreground. Cunningham's New Age Gnosticism I'm sympathetic to but it does nothing for me emotionally or intellectually.

Cunningham suggests that the book can stand alone, and I'll have to take her word for it. It certainly is not the place to begin the series; I don't think people reading it "cold" would be tempted to get the other books, whereas one I read Magdalen Rising (the first book, and also not voluminous), I was hooked. For me, the foundation in the other books is essential to enjoying this one. The central figures -- Maeve, Sarah, even Jesus and the witches -- need their backstory to be fully imagined. The Druid thread is not very compelling unless you compare it to the material in the first novel. Boudica and Suetonius are new, interesting, and effectively used, but they are very much in the background of the story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Keith Kilburn on November 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The culmination of the most completely spiritual story of Jesus ever told, through the feelings and insights of the lovers, Jesus and Magdalene. Cunningham is a wonderful storyteller, gifted writer.
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Format: Hardcover
Elizabeth is a modern day Celtic Bard whose words flow like milk and honey. When I was reading Red Robed Priestess, my husband asked me why I was smiling. Two reasons - first, each word felt like nourishing soul food; second, there was the dry wit of the main character Maeve, the kind of humor that makes you laugh out loud.

Red Robed Priestess is the fourth and final installment in Maeve's story, the life of Mary Magdalen. But be advised, Maeve is definitely not your mother's Mary Magdalen, nor is she the Magdalen we meet in contemporary novels. Maeve is born of eight warrior witches in the Celtic Otherworld. She's unabashedly honest. And, unorthodox as well as fearless. Not so much the kind of fearless that stems from obligation or duty. It's more the kind that is sourced in her unapologetic authenticity, as well as in her body. Her raw truth both inspires and scares me. Could I ever aspire to stand up for those I love the way she did? I certainly learned from her.

Elizabeth and Maeve will transport you to other worlds. To the Celtic Otherworld, to Roman occupied Britain, as well as to the world of deep emotion, and the complexity of human relationships. The world of love eternal. Be prepared for a poignant exploration of mother daughter bonds, and how you can find love in the most surprising people and circumstances.
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