The Mystics Who Came to Dinner

(New York: Orbis Books, 2022)

What if St. Francis of Assisi, St. Hildegard of Bingen, and the English mystics Julian of Norwich, The Cloud of Unknowing author, Richard Rolle, and Margery Kempe came to dinner?

The Mystics Who Came to Dinner imagines such a gathering, with six medieval mystics enjoying dinner and lively conversation in a modern home setting. There, the strange and sometimes alienating aspects of the medieval world are removed so that the mystics’ commonalities as well as their distinctive personalities shine through and their experiences, insights and writings take on fresh appeal and relevance to the lives of twenty-first century readers. Accessible and entertaining, The Mystics Who Came to Dinner speaks to a new generation of spiritual seekers.

“I laughed, I smiled, and I shed a tear or two of joy as I read this whimsical, yet inspiring story.”
—Carl McColman, author, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism

“For those who have read and loved these figures, and those just coming to know the mystical tradition, here is a feast for heart and soul. Both old friends of the mystics and
those new to the mystical tradition will be captivated by this delightfully creative and profoundly insightful book.”
—Michelle Jones, editor, Ruth Burrows: Essential Writings


“The six medieval mystics who engage in conversation at this imaginary dinner impart timeless wisdom and much-needed hope to our discordant world. Enjoy the feast!”
—Veronica Mary Rolf, author, Julian’s Gospel: Illuminating the Life
& Revelations of Julian of Norwich

The Mystics Who Came to Dinner is available late April 2022 from bookstores and online.



Grasping at Water

GAW_front_back cover
Odyssey Books, 2018

Highly Commended in the Society of Women Writers 2020 Book Awards

“What if the world I have seen for the years of my life was shown to be an illusion? Would I discard the solid illusions of a lifetime in favour of the truth?”

When a young, unidentified woman is pulled alive and well from Sydney Harbour in 2013, the links to another woman – found in similar circumstances forty years earlier – present psychiatrist Kathryn Brookley with a terrible decision as the events of the present and past begin to mirror each other and the gap between truth and illusion shrinks. When the young woman goes further and declares that she has lived continuously since coming to ‘understanding’ in the 14th century, her vivid accounts of life, love, childbirth, and loss in the Middle Ages seem so authentic that they test Kathryn’s scientific objectivity to the limit. As Kathryn delves she discovers that she is not the only one whose habitual assumptions about life have been torn asunder by an apparent experience of the miraculous in connection with the mystery woman. But it is the emotional, spiritual and mystical insights that emerge from the connection of all the facets of this mystery that affect Kathryn and others most profoundly, reflecting the commonality of human experience across the ages and the deep yearnings within all of us.     

Grasping at Water is a marvellous mix of mystery, history and discovery that will prompt you to wonder about the way you see life.

‘In this intriguing and original mystery, Bendon’s fine, nuanced understanding of medieval spirituality is woven deftly into the fabric of our contemporary world and concerns.’ Robyn Cadwallader, author of The Anchoress and Book of Colours

‘Carmel Bendon’s superb novel takes the reader from the most intriguing premise into a world of mysterious possibility … a world where nothing can ever be certain. This is a tremendously playful and richly poetic book that speaks to the storyteller inside all of us.’ Walter Mason, author of Destination Saigon & Destination Cambodia

‘Grasping at Water beguiles with its strong sense of mystery, history, character and place … as truth morphs into a voyage of self-discovery.’ Michele Seminara, Verity La

‘Finely written historical mysticism entwined with a modern mystery, Carmel Bendon’s stunning debut sizzles with originality and intrigue. Grasping at Water is the thinking-person’s thriller.’ Amanda Hickey, Journalist & Documentary Filmmaker

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