While the reviews on this book are promising, it's really nothing more than a romance novel in fancy dress. It's formulaic. I read about a chapter and then returned it.
Set in Britain in the 14th century. I adored the bits of history intertwined with the lives of, what to me were very compelling and believable characters. Lady Katherine is trying to keep her household estate of Blackinham together, which is not easy as a widow. The church officials keep coming to demand more money, and the state keeps levying taxes. She has the future of her 15 year old twin sons to consider, so when more income in the form of a boarder and his daughter is offered to her she accepts the offer. Her life becomes entangled with the boarder--an illuminator named Finn--and his daughter Rose in more ways than she could have imagined when they first came to live with her.
These ordinary people are involved in big things, and as the political battles of the state and the church go on around them they cannot help but become involved. A chief issue is the translation of the Bible into English, championed by John Wycliffe but bitterly opposed by the church. Thus catholic church and government officials are often the villains in this book, but the main villain is an ordinary steward taking advantage of his mistress and causing havoc wherever he goes. I loved the unlikely heroes in the story, like Half-Tom the dwarf and Magda the simple (yet wise) servant girl.
I just loved this story, it had enough suspense to keep me going, but I also enjoyed the bits of historical detail and the intriguing characters. Fans of historical fiction or religious thrillers should give it a try.
Borrowed Oct, 24, 2010
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