Victoria MacKenzie

For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy On My Little Pain

Available to order from, Hive, FoylesBlackwell’sWater­stones and Amazon.

In the year of 1413, two women meet for the first time in the city of Norwich.

Margery has left her fourteen children and husband behind to make her journey. Her visions of Christ – which have long alienated her from her family and neighbours, and incurred her husband’s abuse – have placed her in danger with the men of the Church, who have begun to hound her as a heretic.

Julian, an anchoress, has not left Norwich, nor the cell to which she has been confined, for twenty-­three years. She has told no one of her own visions – and knows that time is running out for her to do so.

The two women have stories to tell one another. Stories about girlhood, motherhood, sickness, loss, doubt and belief; revelations more powerful than the world is ready to hear. Their meeting will change everything.

Sensual, vivid and humane, For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy On My Little Pain cracks history open to reveal the lives of two extraordinary women.

Blackwell’s Fiction Book of the Month for April

Abridged for Radio 4  and read on Easter Saturday (30th March) 2.45-4pm

Longlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction

Winner of the Scottish First Book of the Year 2023

A Guardian Fiction Book of the Year

Sunday Times Book of the Year

A Scotsman Book of the Year

An Irish Times Book of the Year


“A tiny novel that contains multitudes … Lightly done but intensely felt, it’s mind-expanding stuff.” The Guardian, Summer Reading: 50 Brilliant Books to Discover

“An extraordinary novel about two extraordinary women … This slim novel is a pocket epic.” – Frank Cottrell-Boyce, The Guardian Book of the Day.

“It is an extraordinary feat of historical ventriloquism; the women’s inner lives, their religiosity, their sense of place in the world is miraculously conjured … This novel is brilliantly done.” – Antonia Senior, The Times Book of the Month.

“Superlative … Striking, elegant … a novel like this requires exquisite balance … this achieves this admirably.” Stuart Kelly, The Scotsman.

“Stunningly original … Her skill is in creating a story that goes much deeper than its slender spine and spare prose might suggest.” Editor’s Pick, Best Books of 2023, Marie Claire.

“A beautiful book. I loved it. Margery and Julian are both so alive. The invisible balancing and weighing MacKenzie has done across the whole to bring them dialogue with each other and to bring the reader into emotional and spiritual connectedness with them is just so brilliant. And it’s funny. It warmed my heart.”  – Max Porter

“This is the best first novel I’ve read in years… It is amazing.” – Roddy Doyle

“Moving and unexpected, MacKenzie writes with great clarity and tenderness … I tore through this.” – Julia Armfield

“Magnificent, bold and compelling … The writing is sometimes raw, at other times very beautiful – and from a place of deep knowledge and love of the historical period.” – Rosie Andrews

“A novel of rare brightness and clarity, concise and yet capacious: it illuminates the meeting of two extraordinary women like a shaft of sunlight.” – Imogen Hermes Gowar