A Rare Benedictine: The Advent of Brother Cadfael is one of the later books (of 21) in a medieval mystery series written by Ellis Peters. This entry isn't a novel but 3 closely connected stories collected in one volume. One of the stories takes place at Christmas. The first of them tells how Cadfael came to be a monk.
I discovered this series decades ago when I came across a hardback edition of one of the books on the sale table of the bookstore at my local mall, back when every mall had a book store. It had an attractive cover, and the plot looked interesting. After I'd read it, I began looking for more and eventually picked them all up. I had read them all when the Derek Jacobi TV series came out, and our whole family enjoyed those shows.
from the back of the book:
"Brother Cadfael sprang to life suddenly and unexpectedly when he was already approaching sixty, mature, experienced, fully armed and seventeen years tonsured." So writes Ellis Peters in her introduction to A RARE BENEDICTINE -three vintage tales of intrigue and treachery featuring the monastic sleuth who has become the best-loved ecclesiastical detective since Father Brown.
Although Cadfael has appeared in eighteen novel-length chronicles to date, the story of his entry into me monastery at Shrewsbury has been known hitherto only to a few readers. Now his myriad fans can discover the chain of events that led him into the Benedictine Order.
Adorned with many period illustrations by Clifford Harper, these three tales show how Cadfael at the height of his sleuthing form. All the complexities of plot, vividly evoked Shropshire backgrounds, and warm understanding of the frailties of human nature that have made Ellis Peters an international best-seller are here displayed to perfection.
I enjoy this whole series and wish there were more, but alas, the author is dead now. She died at age 82 the year after the last one was published. I find the plots interesting and the medieval monastery setting fascinating, and I love the characters.