The Time Before You Die

A Novel of the Reformation

A powerful, beautifully written historic novel of loss, finding and being found, set in a very traumatic period in Europe. The turbulent sixteenth century saw the disintegration of medieval Christendom as it was split into sovereign states. This was particularly destructive in Tudor England where rapid switches in government policy and religious persecution shattered the lives of many.

Especially affected were the monks and nuns who were persecuted by the wholesale dissolution of the monasteries carried out under Henry VIII. One of these monks, Robert Fletcher, a Carthusian of the dismantled priory of Mount Grace in Yorkshire, is the hero of this novel.

The story of this strong, vulnerable man is told in counterpoint with the story of one of the most interesting men in all of English history, Reginald Pole, a nobleman, scholar and theologian who was exiled to Italy for twenty years. He was a Cardinal of the Church, papal legate at the Council of Trent, and as Archbishop of Canterbury, with his cousin Queen Mary Tudor, they tried, in too short a time, to renew Catholic England. This man, in the tragic last months of his life, becomes in the novel the friend of Robert Fletcher, condemned as a heretic.

Readers will learn much from this novel of the anguished period which gave birth to Tridentine Catholicism as well as to the Anglican and other Protestant churches, and which martyred Carthusian monks as well as Thomas More, Thomas Becket, Thomas Cranmer and many others. The profound issues raised in this novel, which contains no altered historical facts but more human truth than facts alone can deliver, have not gone away. With the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in 2017, there will be wide interest in these issues.


“This great novel places us in the turbulent time of the English Reformation where we experience the common trauma of the day, and then, as in all excellent historical fiction, we ask ourselves, ‘Where does my choice lie?’ Seldom has this challenge been given so well. Beckett is a very gifted writer.”
Michael D. O’Brien, Author, Father Elijah: An Apocalypse

“Lucy Beckett combines scholarship with imagination to tell the story of an evicted Carthusian monk and of a great ecclesiastical statesman who tragically failed to save England for the Catholic Church. An enlightening, moving, historical novel that is a pleasure to read.”
Piers Paul Read, Author, Alive: The Andes Survivors

The Time Before You Die
Lucy Beckett

Lucy Beckett

Lucy Beckett studied history at Cambridge and is the author of several books, including her highly acclaimed work, In the Light of Christ: Writings in the Western Tradition, as well as another work of historical fiction, The Time Before You Die: A Novel of the Reformation. She lives in Yorkshire, England, where she teaches at Ampleforth Abbey.

Explore More!

Find other books and articles related to The Time Before You Die.