Category Archives: Elizabeth Chadwick

The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick

Another amazing historical from my favorite medieval storyteller

The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick
Sphere, June 20, 2013
Hardcover 478 pages
Source: Bought from an Amazon seller after I scoured the internet for an hour looking for an available copy when it came out in the UK.. I read and devoured it immediately upon its arrival, but just lacked computer time to compose this review.
Burton Book Review Rating:  (Must you ask?) Fifty Stars, if I could

Eleanor of Aquitaine is a 12th century icon who has fascinated readers for 800 years. But the real Eleanor remains elusive.

This stunning novel introduces an Eleanor that all other writers have missed. Based on the most up-to-date research, it is the first novel to show Eleanor beginning her married life at 13. Barely out of childhood, this gives an entirely new slant to how Eleanor is treated bv those around her. She was often the victim and her first marriage was horribly abusive.

Overflowing with scandal, passion, triumph and tragedy, Eleanor’s legendary story begins when her beloved father dies in the summer of 1137, and she is made to marry the young prince Louis of France. A week after the marriage she becomes a queen and her life will change beyond recognition . . .

Once upon a time there lived an amazing woman who was destined to be ruler of Aquitaine. Her heart and soul was with Aquitaine and the heritage that she was born with. In a time where women were considered frail or used as chattel, Eleanor of Aquitaine rises up and becomes Queen of France, then dumps her husband and that title only to soon become Queen of England.

After many reads based on Eleanor’s life, one would think I’ve had enough. But then here comes Elizabeth Chadwick writing a novel that she has wanted to write for a very long time. Her previous historicals on William Marshal were based during Eleanor’s time, and Eleanor would beckon to the author to write Eleanor’s story.

And that she did. With typical Chadwick flair, we have a start to what will prove to be an amazing trilogy on Eleanor, except our main protagonist is now called Alienor. My first inclination was to shy from this twist on the anglicized name of Eleanor, but Chadwick’s skillful writing set me at ease with this proper spelling of Eleanor right away. Among other things, I loved how she portrayed Louis; my feelings about him changed as his character changed.. and she made him more interesting than he probably was! What a sack of uselessness he seemed to be.

Alienor’s story is familiar to most of us medieval fiction lovers, but as always Chadwick tells it beautifully and with deft writing skill. She does not inundate us with endless facts and names, she simply draws us into Alienor’s world from the time she was a child to the time she finally meets Henry, her second husband. It is a poignant tale as we ache for Alienor during her loveless marriage to the weak and overly pious King of France even though we know eventually she will break free. But Chadwick gives us the full story, the full measure of Alienor so that we live and breathe in Alienor’s world unlike any other novel on the woman.

We root for Alienor as she faces obstacle after obstacle (and goes on a crusade!) and we still manage to learn a bit more of the story behind the well-known history of the era. Her sister Petronella shows us a new side of a scandalous story, and Alienor herself proves she is not all ice as one would believe. The supporting characters all add to the nuances of the drama, and there were some characters who get to stay around longer than others as the author saw fit. Fans of both Chadwick and the love and hate story between Eleanor and Henry will love this telling, but will be sad when the novel is over because there is still so much left to be told. I am impatiently waiting for the author to write the next installment, The Winter Crown, which we hope will be available by the fall of 2014.

As I stated in my final reading status update on Goodreads, “Chadwick writes so well I am annoyed I’ve finished the book.” There is no need for me to repeat how awesome and vivid of a story that Elizabeth Chadwick writes, she is the ultimate contemporary expert of medieval historical fiction in my humble opinion. Yet I will never get tired of complimenting Elizabeth Chadwick’s writing as long as she promises to write more, more, more, more, and more!!! Come on, 2014!

A problem that I’ll have to debate during my wait for her next novel is trying to decide which is my favorite Chadwick novel of the eight that I’ve read. I’ve read three Chadwick’s this year but 2011’s Lady of the English still sticks in my mind. Perhaps I’ll have to have a Chadwick Re-Read Marathon to see which is the cream that rises to the top. Of those that I’ve read, Shadows and Strongholds, Lady of the English, and now The Summer Queen will be battling for that position. Which novel was your favorite Chadwick thus far?

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Filed under 2013 Releases, 2013 Review, Best of 2013, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Elizabeth Chadwick

Lords of The White Castle by Elizabeth Chadwick

by Elizabeth Chadwick
Sphere UK Edition published in 2006

Lords of The White Castle by Elizabeth Chadwick
Historical Medieval Fiction
Originally published in Great Britain, 2000, by Little, Brown and Company
Paperback 678 pages
This copy from personal collection, ordered from Book Depository
Burton Book Review Rating:4 medieval stars
Read an excerpt
Previous Elizabeth Chadwick Reviews at Burton Book Review

Synopsis:
A violent quarrel with the future King John destroys the young Fulke FitzWarin’s greatest ambition: to become Lord of the White Castle. Instead of accepting his fate, Fulke rebels. But the danger pursuing Fulke reaches new heights as he begins a passionate love affair with Maude Walter – the wealthy widow chosen by John himself.

Negotiating a maze of deceit, treachery and shifting alliances, Fulke’s route to success is fraught. And when the turmoil of the Magna Carta rebellion combines with a shocking tragedy, everything Fulke has fought for is thrown into the path of destruction.

I had just completed reading Chadwick’s Shadows and Strongholds when in the Author’s note Chadwick mentioned that a previous release of hers will continue the story of the FitzWarin family. I was so ecstatic, since I owned Lords of The White Castle for a year or so and was happy to keep on going with this medieval story of love and war. This novel picks up with Fulke FitzWarin, who is a few years younger than Prince John. If you’ve read Chadwick’s William Marshal novels, you’ll recognize this Prince John as the evil and malevolent King John in the Marshal novels. As a prince, he is no better. Prince John and Fulke are not friends from the onset, but Fulke still has to serve Prince John. He is still young squire at fifteen, and it was very intriguing to watch Fulke reach adulthood and see what he would do to win the FitzWarin castle back from my last read in Shadows and Strongholds so that he could finally become the lord of that White Castle.

Fulke le Brun is the main character from Shadows, and this novel jumps ahead to his son, Fulke in 1184 as he is a reluctant courtier in the court of Prince John. Fulke has five brothers, and they are similar to the Robin Hood/Three Musketeers legends as the band of brothers find themselves branded as outlaws once Fulke realizes that King John will never give back the land of FitzWarin’s grandfather. It is this ultimate quest for Whittington that the story relies upon, but there are also layers and layers of story lines with many strong characters, which is where Elizabeth Chadwick is such a masterful storyteller. Fulke and John become bitter enemies, and their lives are punctuated like moves on a chess board, where such a game is the symbolism of the beginning of the paramount battle for superiority. Both men are stubborn and strong, and both men have those who are willing to support them in their quest to out maneuver the other.

I will admit that after devouring Shadows and Strongholds, I wanted to dive right into that same page turning atmosphere with Lords of The White Castle. But it ended up being a bit slow going for the first few hundred pages as it set the story up for the next generation (maybe it was a mistake for me to continue the story right away). It took awhile for Fulke to grow into manhood and for the love of his life to become available to him, and it wasn’t until that happened that I felt we were finally getting somewhere. Still, with Chadwick’s skill we are transported to the medieval era and we can feel as close to the main characters as we could possibly be. Fulke’s wife Maude is a lady to be reckoned with, and I admired her tenacity and her intellect. The two as a couple were portrayed as blazing hot when together, which added an enjoyable romance element to the historical fiction. As the years went on, their love still held them together, in spite of the major issues that King John forced upon them which hindered Fulke’s upmost need for the castle of Whittington. That was always his main concern, his raison d’être, even if it meant  harming his family politically. Sometimes he seemed like a blockhead because of the stubbornness.

The ending was sort of weird for me.. I normally feel a sense of euphoria over such a magnificent story of Chadwick’s, but this time I was just glad I was done. It is a chunkster, and in hindsight I figure I should have let a bit of space in between reading the two FitzWarin stories so close together. This novel has many glowing reviews, as expected from a Chadwick novel these days and I would definitely recommend the story to those readers who enjoy romance, with a hefty dose of the vindictive King John. Just space out your King John reads! Don’t forget, I absolutely LOVED Shadows and Strongholds, and you can read my review here.

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Filed under #histnov, 2013 Review, Elizabeth Chadwick, King John, Medieval Era

Shadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick

Cover from my UK Time Warner edition


Shadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick
My personal copy is published by Time Warner UK, 2005
Also published November 29th 2005 by St. Martin’s Press (first published July 2004)
Paperback 568 pages
Not sent by publisher, author etc; Personal collection!
Burton Book Review Rating:
Previous Elizabeth Chadwick Reviews at Burton Book Review

A medieval tale of pride and strife, of coming-of-age in a world where chivalry is a luxury seldom afforded, especially by men of power.

England, 1148—ten-year-old Brunin FitzWarin is an awkward misfit in his own family. A quiet child, he is tormented by his brothers and loathed by his powerful and autocratic grandmother. In an attempt to encourage Brunin’s development, his father sends him to be fostered in the household of Joscelin de Dinan, Lord of Ludlow. Here Brunin will learn knightly arts, but before he can succeed, he must overcome the deep-seated doubts that hold him back.

Hawise, the youngest daughter of Lord Joscelin, soon forms a strong friendship with Brunin. Family loyalties mean that her father, with the young Brunin as his squire, must aid Prince Henry of Anjou in his battle with King Stephen for the English crown. Meanwhile, Ludlow itself comes under threat from Joscelin’s rival, Gilbert de Lacy. As the war for the crown rages, and de Lacy becomes more assertive in his claims for Ludlow, Brunin and Hawise are drawn into each other’s arms.

Now Brunin must defeat the shadows of his childhood and put to use all that he has learned. As the pressure on Ludlow intensifies and a new Welsh threat emerges against his own family’s lands, Brunin must confront the future head on, or fail on all counts….

What a book to start the New Year with, and this is the first book I’ve read towards the 2013 TBR Pile Challenge! Medieval treachery, love, and war coming from the pen of Chadwick is always a treat for me. I adore Elizabeth Chadwick’s writing as she blends romance and history with much detail of the medieval period. This particular story focuses on a young couple who first met when the young boy became a ward of the girl’s father. Brunin FitzWarin was a friend to Hawise, and kindred spirits. They enjoyed each other’s company growing up, but once they were finally betrothed their world changed. Hawise’s family home of Ludlow Castle comes under threat from de Lacy cousins who would like to battle for its possession, and Brunin finds himself face to face with that threat at the same time his own ancestral home becomes threatened.

There are many side characters as typical of a Chadwick novel which helps to give an epic style story, and as Chadwick readers already know, the stories are always full of historical details that are inter-weaved throughout a dramatic story. The FitzWarin family may be a step above the de Dinan’s as far as status and lineage goes, but marrying Hawise de Dinan to Brunin will bring the FitzWarins the prize of Ludlow Castle. But that’s only if the de Lacy’s will let Ludlow go, and it doesn’t seem like Gilbert de Lacy and his loyal squires are willing to do that. There are disputes from several families as to the rightful owners of the castles of the story which brings battles and grudges to the families involved. Add the fact that England is in the middle of yet another political war between King Stephen’s factions and Matilda’s son Henry, we’ve got ourselves a fantastic telling of a complex period of England’s history.

Shadows and Strongholds provides a riveting, captivating wondrous tale of medieval chivalry and rivalry among powerful families such as the de Lacys and Mortimers. One of the most interesting things romance lovers will adore is the fact that one of female leads from this novel, Marion de la Bruyere, is to this day purported to be a ghost amongst the ruins of Ludlow Castle. Her story is vividly imagined in the novel and such a sad one. And in the Author’s Note I was so happy to learn that Chadwick’s earlier 2000 publication of Lords of the White Castle is actually the latter story of the FitzWarin story, so guess what I’m reading next?!

I have read and enjoyed five other novels from Elizabeth Chadwick, and this one does not disappoint in the least. Chadwick is a master of the medieval period and I love how she is not afraid to add a thicker layer of  romance than most. She and Sharon Kay Penman are each my favorite medieval period historical fiction authors, and other fans of Elizabeth Chadwick will be pleased to know that she is reissuing Shadows and Strongholds with Sourcebooks Landmark in March 2013. Be prepared to see it on many favorite lists at the end of 2013, including mine.

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Filed under 2013 Reading Challenge, 2013 Releases, 2013 Review, Elizabeth Chadwick, Medieval Era

(2 book Giveaway!) A Place Beyond Courage by Elizabeth Chadwick

Honor and loyalty like water..

A Place Beyond Courage by Elizabeth Chadwick
Sourcebooks USA edition September 1, 2012
{Published October 4th 2007 by Sphere UK}
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:Four Stars

My other Chadwick reviews:
The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick (2010, 4 stars)
The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick (2010, 4.5 stars)
Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick (2011, 5 stars)*Favorited!
To Defy A King by Elizabeth Chadwick (2011, 4.5 stars)

The early twelfth century is a time for ambitious men to prosper, and royal servant John FitzGilbert Marshal is one of them. Raised high as the kin of the deceased King Henry battle each other for England’s throne, John reaps rich rewards but pays a terrible price for the choices he makes – as do his family. His wife, fragile, naïve Aline is hopelessly unequipped to cope with the demands of a life lived on the edge and, when John is seriously injured in battle, her worst nightmare is realised. Sybilla, bright, forthright sister to the Earl of Salisbury, finds herself used as a bargaining counter when her brother seeks to seal a truce with his troublesome neighbour, John FitzGilbert. And then there is Sybilla’s small son, William, seized hostage by the King for John’s word of honour. But sometimes keeping your honour means breaking your word.

Previous releases by Elizabeth Chadwick such as The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion chronicle the honorable William Marshal and his family during times of war and unrest in the 12th century. Stepping back a bit, A Place Beyond Courage is the story of William’s parents, John and Sybilla Marshal. The period is a harsh one, with the battle for the throne of England that lasted for many years, costing many lives and giving families little security. The one hope was for the future: young Henry FitzEmpress could take it over from King Stephen if England could just hold on for that long. This was an era that was aptly named in Sharon Kay Penman’s novel When Christ and His Saints Slept.

Elizabeth Chadwick is a master at this period and meticulously researches her material, and presents the story eloquently and passionately. The characters this time around however took awhile to ingratiate themselves, as John Fitzgilbert (Marshal) seemed all too eager to throw his word away, yet so was every one else when it came to the oath to the FitzEmpress. John’s first wife Aline is also a major figure for the first half of the book, and she was not someone to be admired. She was the opposite in character traits that a hardened man like John needed, and she could never evoke any sympathy from me. Several times over the narration explained that the marriage between Aline and John was one of little rapport and that they only coupled to beget that heir etc. Once Aline was out of the picture I was able to enjoy the story more, as Sybilla became John’s new wife and thus the story held a lot more hope. Sybilla was a strong young woman and perfect helpmate to John. Babies were born, and along came William whom we know from the other works of Chadwick’s. When we get to the part about William becoming a hostage under King Stephen, I cried. And when William came back alive (as we knew he would), I cried then too.

The rest of the story filled in the political pieces of the horrible era before young Henry Fitzempress became King and was full of battles, trebuchets, uneasy nobles and alliances that were made and broken over and over again. Fair warning, there was a bit more sexual content than I remembered from the previous books. If you are a newbie to the era, the many names and castles could be a little confusing yet a perfect beginner’s start to the period, but for the seasoned reader of the era it is a rehashing of the events with the main story coming from the outlook of John Marshal. Little William definitely stole the show here too, though. He is still my favorite knight!

Courtesy of the publisher Sourcebooks, they are giving away A Place Beyond Courage AND The Greatest Knight!!

Please comment here with your email address, and let me know what 12th Century reads you have enjoyed! US & Canada only please. Giveaway ends September 3rd 2012.

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Filed under 12th Century, 2012 Releases, 2012 Review, Elizabeth Chadwick

RELEASE DAY! Guest Post: Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick

In honor of Elizabeth Chadwick’s release day today I wanted to present this article written by Elizabeth Chadwick which was previously posted in June.

Lady of the English paperback has been released by Sourcebooks and you can also look for the beautiful hardcover from the June UK release by Sphere at the BookDepository or Amazon.uk. I really enjoyed this newest medieval novel from Elizabeth Chadwick (my review can be found here).

UK release, Sphere, 6/2011
Two very different women are linked by destiny and the struggle for the English crown. Matilda, daughter of Henry I, is determined to win back her crown from Stephen, the usurper king. Adeliza, Henry’s widowed queen and Matilda’s stepmother, is now married to William D’Albini, a warrior of the opposition. Both women are strong and prepared to stand firm for what they know is right. But in a world where a man’s word is law, how can Adeliza obey her husband while supporting Matilda, the rightful queen? And for Matilda pride comes before a fall …What price for a crown? What does it cost to be ‘Lady of the English’?

One of the most favored historical fiction authors of our day, here is Elizabeth Chadwick, as I asked her to set the scene of her new novel for those who might not be familiar with The White Ship disaster and the ensuing struggle between Empress Matilda and King Stephen. I myself had read When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman which begins with the White Ship Disaster. That book got me started on this fabulous journey of the medieval era, and it is with eager anticipation that I get my reading pleasure back to that historic time period.

US release, Sourcebooks 9/1/11

LADY OF THE ENGLISH

Setting the Scene

On November 25th 1120, King Henry I of England was at Barfleur in Normandy preparing to return to England. He was in settled middle age, but still looking to the future. His eldest son William was in his late teens and being groomed to eventually succeed his father as Duke of Normandy and King of England. Henry’s daughter Matilda, also in her late teens was Empress of Germany. Henry’s wife, Matilda, had died two years ago, but Henry was now looking to remarry and had already set matters in motion and was contracting to wed Adeliza of Louvain, a young woman of similar age to his daughter. Adeliza was accounted beautiful and pious, and Henry was keen to marry, and hopefully beget more legitimate heirs beyond the two born of his first wife. Henry had something of a reputation for liking the ladies and fathered at least a score of bastards on various women.

But that cold winter’s night in Normandy, everything was to change. Henry set sail first in daylight with a lot of older, sober court members, but left the youngsters including his son and several of his illegitimate offspring, to their carousing and pleasure. It was the last Henry ever saw of them. The White Ship foundered when it hit a rock in Barfleur harbour, and sank without survivors save one – a butcher who clung to a spar and was washed ashore.

Henry’s whole game plan had to change because now the only legitimate heir to the throne was his daughter Matilda in Germany. He went ahead with his marriage plans, but it became obvious that no child was going to be forthcoming from Adeliza. Young and beautiful though she was, she did not quicken. Henry began to cast around for a successor and his gaze fixed upon his nephew Stephen, son of his sister Adela. Stephen had an older brother Theobald, who would become count of Blois, and a younger brother Henry who was destined for the priesthood. Stephen in the middle seems to have attracted King Henry’s interest and approval. He had grown up at the court with tragic young Prince, and had only been saved from drowning himself because he was suffering from a stomach upset and preferred not to embark on the fated White Ship.

Henry married Stephen to Matilda of Boulogne, who was kin on her mother’s side to the old Royal Saxon house of England, thus giving Stephen a firm claim to the Crown. There was another claimant to the throne too, a young man called William le Clito. He too was Henry’s nephew, but an enemy because he was the son of Henry’s older brother, Robert. Henry had defeated Robert in battle way back in 1106, and had had him cast into prison ever since – where he was subsequently to die. When le Clito was old enough, he took up his father’s gauntlet and laid claim to England and Normandy. However Henry’s grip was strong and sure, and although le Clito fought hard, he was hampered by a lack of resources and his threat to Henry was to end in 1128 when he died from a poisoned battle wound.

In 1125 the Emperor of Germany died untimely, leaving Henry’s daughter Matilda a widow. Suddenly there was a new player in the game. Henry summoned Matilda home and had the barons swear to her as their future sovereign. This did not sit well with many of his lords and clergy, but Henry was so strong a King, and ruled with such charisma and iron that no one dared oppose him. However, he did not cast off Stephen entirely. As I have him say in LADY OF THE ENGLISH:

‘A prudent man keeps more than one horse in the stable, but there is always one he prefers to ride.’

And that is exactly how I believe Henry felt. He could play one off against the other. If one displeased him or if policy changed that he could turn to the other. I also think that he was hoping to live forever, or at least until his grandson’s were grown up. Externally he might have prepared to meet his own mortality, but internally he had no intention of giving up his fistfuls of power.

When he did eventually die – (did he jump or was he pushed?) The Blois faction were well placed to seize the Crown, and I think their swift action was premeditated. Stephen was at Wissant which was a short sea journey from England, and his brother Henry was at Winchester and in control of the Royal Treasury. You tell me whether there was a conspiracy or not!

Matilda on the other hand was in Anjou with her husband and sons, and newly pregnant again. No one came galloping to offer her the crown. Instead it was all stitched up by the Blois faction and the reluctance of barons to accept a woman on the throne, when they could have a man.

Nevertheless, they had sworn their allegiance to Matilda, and Matilda had not only her own right to fight for, but that of her small son, Henry – and fight she did, to the great cost of the lands involved, the people, and herself.

Adeliza helped her in that fight. Indeed Adeliza was immensely important to Matilda. After Henry died she married William D’Albini, a young baron who was a staunch supporter of Stephen. But despite her loyalty to her husband, Adeliza was determined to do what she felt was right by old obligations and ties. When Matilda came to England to fight her corner, it was Adeliza who gave her a safe landfall.

LADY OF THE ENGLISH begins the story in 1125 when Matilda is setting out from Germany to return home, and Adeliza is despairing that she will never bear Henry an heir. Both women were titled ‘Lady of the English’ in their lives, and and that’s why I chose it for the novel. It was always given to the Queen of England in that period, and although Matilda never gained the Crown, she was acknowledged with that tribute.

THANKS SO MUCH TO MS. CHADWICK!!
Also, please visit some of my other Elizabeth Chadwick posts, which includes reviews of previous titles. Additionally, you may visit with Elizabeth Chadwick on her blog and website. Also, very helpfully Elizabeth Chadwick has kindly supplied us with a Suggested Reading Order for her novels which can be found here.

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Filed under 2011 Releases, Elizabeth Chadwick, Medieval Era

Review: Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick

Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick

544 pages Hardcover, Little Brown/Sphere UK 6/2/2011
Sourcebooks US Release 9/1/2011
ISBN 13: 9781847442376
Review copy provided by the UK publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:Five Glittery Stars

Two very different women are linked by destiny and the struggle for the English crown. Matilda, daughter of Henry I, is determined to win back her crown from Stephen, the usurper king. Adeliza, Henry’s widowed queen and Matilda’s stepmother, is now married to William D’Albini, a warrior of the opposition. Both women are strong and prepared to stand firm for what they know is right. But in a world where a man’s word is law, how can Adeliza obey her husband while supporting Matilda, the rightful queen? And for Matilda pride comes before a fall …What price for a crown? What does it cost to be ‘Lady of the English’?

As mentioned before as a preface to Elizabeth Chadwick’s article she provided us with here, I had first tapped into my historical fiction passion with the novel When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman. Henry I’s son and heir to England, William, dies in the White Ship disaster, leaving his daughter Matilda as sole heir to the throne after her father’s death. The path to that throne is littered with obstacles for the woman, as the new King Stephen usurps the throne of England from the Empress. Elizabeth Chadwick focuses her newest novel on two women: Matilda, Henry I’s daughter, and Adeliza, Henry’s beautiful wife, as turmoil ignites throughout the lands of Normandy and England.

The novel opens up to when Matilda’s first husband Emperor Heinrich has died and left her as a young widower. Matilda returns to her father’s keeping after living in Germany and enjoying her status as Empress. Matilda and Adeliza form a bond out of loyalty to King Henry, which proves useful to Matilda when she most needs it. Although King Henry has many illegitimate children, he cannot get a male heir from Adeliza, much to their chagrin. Thus, Matilda becomes a pawn in her father’s realm, as nobles are forced to pay homage to the Empress, although they renege on this fealty once her father dies after eating lampreys. Was he intentionally poisoned? Did the Blois faction have something to do with Henry’s convenient death? Despite the three separate times those nobles swore fealty to Matilda as heir to the throne, her cousin Stephen of Blois immediately takes England for his own while Matilda is faraway in Anjou with her children. Her new young husband, Geoffrey of Anjou, fights for their children’s right to the throne of England, as loyalty is put to the test between family members and old alliances.

True to her form, Elizabeth Chadwick recreates the era with ease as we watch through the eyes of Matilda and Adeliza the struggle for the right to the throne. Given the coincidental timing that was always in favor for King Stephen, Matilda was always just a stone’s throw from the throne’s grasp, as she slowly began to groom her son and her own growing faction to prepare for the day her son would rightfully gain the throne. Adeliza’s story of being a Queen and then almost a nun was also compelling, as she performed her role as peacemaker admirably and gracefully alongside Matilda’s own efforts to safeguard her son’s rights. Adeliza’s story is not one that I’ve read before, and I found her part of the book a sweet counterpart to the story of the struggling Matilda. The few characters that Chadwick expands upon are Brian Fitzcount and William D’Albini, while others like Geoffrey of Anjou, King Stephen, and Robert of Gloucester only support the greater stories of Matilda and Adeliza.

Elizabeth Chadwick creates a fervor each time a new book of hers is even rumored to be released. This is due to her years of research, intelligent writing style and descriptive prose, along with her excellent ability to engage her readers within the first page of her novels. Chadwick knows how to spin the weaves of history’s cloth, embroidered with captivating details, that seem to mirror the very image of the era. The historical fiction genre has quite a few of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II novels, but Chadwick does her readers a service by giving us the before picture. She weaves us through the reign of Stephen, otherwise known as the Anarchy, using several key characters and mentioning some lesser known ones, as the age old debate of Church vs. State come into play. The era was rife with dissemblers and floundering loyalties, as greedy nobles reached for titles beyond their grasp.

Empress Matilda always held to her son’s goal as the King of England first and foremost, and learning the story of how she helped achieve that is a refreshing change of pace for historical fiction fans. Chadwick marvelously pinpointed the character of the young Henry II as an eager and ambitious boy who held fast to his destiny in England. Always a magnificent storyteller, Lady of the English does not disappoint. Up next for the author is indeed a trilogy on Eleanor of Aquitaine, and I am eagerly awaiting how Chadwick tells Eleanor’s story.

Related links from Elizabeth Chadwick’s website:
The Enigmatic Brian FitzCount
Adeliza of Louvain. Lady of The English. The Forgotten Queen
An extract from the novel can be found here.
See my other Elizabeth Chadwick posts here.
 
Check out Book Depository.uk to order your copy of Lady of the English, and as of the date of this review you’ll find some of Chadwick’s previous titles on sale. I am slowly acquiring her back list, and I just ordered The Falcons of Montabard and The Winter Mantle.

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Filed under 12th Century, 2011 Releases, 2011 Reviews, Best of 2011, Elizabeth Chadwick, King Stephen, Matilda, Medieval Era

Elizabeth Chadwick Sets the Scene: Lady of the English

It is with glee that I present this article written by Elizabeth Chadwick in honor of today’s UK release of her newest novel, Lady of the English. This is a beautiful hardcover that is available at the BookDepository or Amazon.uk. I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into it, and it is not disappointing me in the least! Lady of the English will be available in the USA in the fall. But I know you can’t wait for the paperback USA release, so go grab this gorgeous 544 page book from the UK, you know you want to.

Two very different women are linked by destiny and the struggle for the English crown. Matilda, daughter of Henry I, is determined to win back her crown from Stephen, the usurper king. Adeliza, Henry’s widowed queen and Matilda’s stepmother, is now married to William D’Albini, a warrior of the opposition. Both women are strong and prepared to stand firm for what they know is right. But in a world where a man’s word is law, how can Adeliza obey her husband while supporting Matilda, the rightful queen? And for Matilda pride comes before a fall …What price for a crown? What does it cost to be ‘Lady of the English’?

One of the most favored historical fiction authors of our day, here is Elizabeth Chadwick, as I asked her to set the scene of her new novel for those who might not be familiar with The White Ship disaster and the ensuing struggle between Empress Matilda and King Stephen. I myself had read When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman which begins with the White Ship Disaster. That book got me started on this fabulous journey of the medieval era, and it is with eager anticipation that I get my reading pleasure back to that historic time period.

Marie, thanks so much for allowing me to guest blog for the UK hardcover publication of Lady of the English.

LADY OF THE ENGLISH
Setting the Scene

On November 25th 1120, King Henry I of England was at Barfleur in Normandy preparing to return to England. He was in settled middle age, but still looking to the future. His eldest son William was in his late teens and being groomed to eventually succeed his father as Duke of Normandy and King of England. Henry’s daughter Matilda, also in her late teens was Empress of Germany. Henry’s wife, Matilda, had died two years ago, but Henry was now looking to remarry and had already set matters in motion and was contracting to wed Adeliza of Louvain, a young woman of similar age to his daughter. Adeliza was accounted beautiful and pious, and Henry was keen to marry, and hopefully beget more legitimate heirs beyond the two born of his first wife. Henry had something of a reputation for liking the ladies and fathered at least a score of bastards on various women.

But that cold winter’s night in Normandy, everything was to change. Henry set sail first in daylight with a lot of older, sober court members, but left the youngsters including his son and several of his illegitimate offspring, to their carousing and pleasure. It was the last Henry ever saw of them. The White Ship foundered when it hit a rock in Barfleur harbour, and sank without survivors save one – a butcher who clung to a spar and was washed ashore.

Henry’s whole game plan had to change because now the only legitimate heir to the throne was his daughter Matilda in Germany. He went ahead with his marriage plans, but it became obvious that no child was going to be forthcoming from Adeliza. Young and beautiful though she was, she did not quicken. Henry began to cast around for a successor and his gaze fixed upon his nephew Stephen, son of his sister Adela. Stephen had an older brother Theobald, who would become count of Blois, and a younger brother Henry who was destined for the priesthood. Stephen in the middle seems to have attracted King Henry’s interest and approval. He had grown up at the court with tragic young Prince, and had only been saved from drowning himself because he was suffering from a stomach upset and preferred not to embark on the fated White Ship.

Henry married Stephen to Matilda of Boulogne, who was kin on her mother’s side to the old Royal Saxon house of England, thus giving Stephen a firm claim to the Crown. There was another claimant to the throne too, a young man called William le Clito. He too was Henry’s nephew, but an enemy because he was the son of Henry’s older brother, Robert. Henry had defeated Robert in battle way back in 1106, and had had him cast into prison ever since – where he was subsequently to die. When le Clito was old enough, he took up his father’s gauntlet and laid claim to England and Normandy. However Henry’s grip was strong and sure, and although le Clito fought hard, he was hampered by a lack of resources and his threat to Henry was to end in 1128 when he died from a poisoned battle wound.

In 1125 the Emperor of Germany died untimely, leaving Henry’s daughter Matilda a widow. Suddenly there was a new player in the game. Henry summoned Matilda home and had the barons swear to her as their future sovereign. This did not sit well with many of his lords and clergy, but Henry was so strong a King, and ruled with such charisma and iron that no one dared oppose him. However, he did not cast off Stephen entirely. As I have him say in LADY OF THE ENGLISH:

‘A prudent man keeps more than one horse in the stable, but there is always one he prefers to ride.’

And that is exactly how I believe Henry felt. He could play one off against the other. If one displeased him or if policy changed that he could turn to the other. I also think that he was hoping to live forever, or at least until his grandson’s were grown up. Externally he might have prepared to meet his own mortality, but internally he had no intention of giving up his fistfuls of power.

When he did eventually die – (did he jump or was he pushed?) The Blois faction were well placed to seize the Crown, and I think their swift action was premeditated. Stephen was at Wissant which was a short sea journey from England, and his brother Henry was at Winchester and in control of the Royal Treasury. You tell me whether there was a conspiracy or not!

Matilda on the other hand was in Anjou with her husband and sons, and newly pregnant again. No one came galloping to offer her the crown. Instead it was all stitched up by the Blois faction and the reluctance of barons to accept a woman on the throne, when they could have a man.

Nevertheless, they had sworn their allegiance to Matilda, and Matilda had not only her own right to fight for, but that of her small son, Henry – and fight she did, to the great cost of the lands involved, the people, and herself.

Adeliza helped her in that fight. Indeed Adeliza was immensely important to Matilda. After Henry died she married William D’Albini, a young baron who was a staunch supporter of Stephen. But despite her loyalty to her husband, Adeliza was determined to do what she felt was right by old obligations and ties. When Matilda came to England to fight her corner, it was Adeliza who gave her a safe landfall.

LADY OF THE ENGLISH begins the story in 1125 when Matilda is setting out from Germany to return home, and Adeliza is despairing that she will never bear Henry an heir. Both women were titled ‘Lady of the English’ in their lives, and and that’s why I chose it for the novel. It was always given to the Queen of England in that period, and although Matilda never gained the Crown, she was acknowledged with that tribute.

THANKS SO MUCH TO MS. CHADWICK!!
Are you excited yet? Have you read any other novels that dealt with Empress Matilda? I would love to know!! Recommendations?
Also, please visit some of my other Elizabeth Chadwick posts, which includes reviews of previous titles. Additionally, you may visit with Elizabeth Chadwick on her blog and website.

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Filed under 2011 Releases, Author Post, Elizabeth Chadwick, King Stephen, Matilda, Medieval Era

>Book Review: To Defy A King by Elizabeth Chadwick

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To Defy A King by Elizabeth Chadwick
Paperback, 560 pages
Medieval Historical Fiction
Published March 1st 2011 by Sourcebooks Landmark/May by Sphere
Review copy provided by Sourcebooks
The Burton Review Rating:4 and a Half Stars!

Acquiring a novel by the now famous Elizabeth Chadwick is one of those win-win situations. You know you can’t go wrong with Elizabeth Chadwick’s writing, as she has gained fans around the world. I doubt anyone bothers reading this review because of the fact that almost everyone has the same opinions of her..Chadwick is an icon for the historical fiction community for her ability to create a believable and passionate story based around major events of the era. For me, she ranks up there with Sharon Kay Penman for medieval history.  Reading a new Chadwick novel is much like your favorite treat, you know you will be satisfied with the result. Last year I had loved her novels that focused on William Marshal, and here she comes again bringing us more William Marshal, perhaps the greatest knight to have ever lived… yet this time the story focuses on his daughter, Mahelt, also known as Maud or Matilda. I was eager to hate King John in Chadwick’s The Scarlet Lion, and the feeling is back again with Mahelt’s dealings with him as she watches her Marshal family become threatened by his various moods. He was murderous, treacherous, unwilling to cooperate with his barons; one shudders to think what his mama (Eleanor of Aquitaine) would have thought about his hateful and misguided actions.

Mahelt is not a prominent woman of historical importance, as opposed to the Eleanor of Aquitaine to whom her father had served, yet Chadwick weaves us a fascinating story of her as she reconstructs the historical events that occurred to her Marshal family and her marriage family. An interesting tidbit is that the sons of William Marshal had no children, yet it is through Mahelt’s children that the Stuart Kings of Scotland claimed as part of their heritage. Through about three sentences mentioning Mahelt within medieval history which Chadwick found, she recreates with intricate details the life of Mahelt with a clarity that makes her readers feel like they are transported to that era. Chadwick portrays Mahelt as impetuous, stubborn, strong-willed, and totally likable.. Her marriage to Hugh Bigod comes at a time when the Marshals need a friend in high places, and the Bigods were a perfect fit, as were the new couple. Hugh seemed to enjoy Mahelt’s willful character, and loved to be the one to tame her. I enjoyed the love story, the various characters such as her brothers, the historical details of King John vs. the world, and how the Marshals and the Bigods worked together, albeit tenuously.

Those readers who read Chadwick’s The Time of Singing (UK) aka For The Kings Favor (USA), the story of Roger Bigod, will be reintroduced to Roger and Ida after their own love affair has settled. Ida now takes on Mahelt as her own daughter and helps her to adjust to the Bigod ways and tries to teach her to not step on gruff Roger’s toes. As she proves her worth to the Bigods, her husband becomes smitten with her. Managing to please her father-in-law is another feat, but Mahelt does her best to heed to his will. King John creates havoc in the Marshals’ world, and threatens the peace between the two families of Bigods and Marshals. King John loved to take hostages, such as Mahelt’s brothers and others, some did not come out alive.

If there are any quibbles with the story of Mahelt, I can say that the author spoke of Mahelt’s repulsion to sewing an awful lot, and her husband Hugh had many ‘eloquent’ looks, and the ending was a bit anti-climatic. But altogether the novel is one of family drama, loyalty, strife and historical details with a strong cast of characters that will please any history lover. I am waiting for some fabulous screenwriter/director combo to pick up on Chadwick’s William Marshal novels and produce an epic movie for us that encompasses the stories of the Marshals and the Bigods before and during King John’s rule. That would be a well-deserved feather in Chadwick’s cap; she deserves all the accolades and praise as a queen of historical fiction. The spirit of the Marshals shine on her and through her worthy pen.

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Filed under 2011 Releases, 2011 Reviews, Elizabeth Chadwick, Medieval Era, William Marshal

>Mailbox Monday~ HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!!

>Please don't steal my images!Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. And I am adding what I purchased, swapped, etc.

I know that many of you.. and me.. are out there at the pool getting a sunburn so you may not be seeing this post on Monday.. so I’ll put up some books to welcome those who do take the time to visit this week and save the rest for a rainy day. That’s my excuse and I am sticking to it.

Zero review books this way, these were all purchases by me:

Victoria’s Daughters by Jerrold M Packard (1999)
Five women who shared one of the most extraordinary and privileged sisterhoods of all time…

Vicky, Alice, Helena, Louise, and Beatrice were historically unique sisters, born to a sovereign who ruled over a quarter of the earth’s people and who gave her name to an era: Queen Victoria. Two of these princesses would themselves produce children of immense consequence. All five would face the social restrictions and familial machinations borne by ninetheenth-century women of far less exalted class.
Researched at the houses and palaces of its five subjects— in London, Scotland, Berlin, Darmstadt, and Ottawa— Victoria’s Daughters examines a generation of royal women who were dominated by their mother, married off as much for political advantage as for love, and passed over entirely when their brother Bertie ascended to the throne. Packard, an experienced biographer whose last book chronicled Victoria’s final days, provides valuable insights into their complex, oft-tragic lives as scions of Europe’s most influential dynasty, and daughters of their own very troubled times.

The Princes in The Tower by Elizabeth Jenkins (1992)
A landmark look at one the most heartrending, tragic acts in British history: the murder of two defenseless young princes in the Tower of London by their uncle, King Richard III. Written by the bestselling author of Elizabeth the Great, it uses contemporary scientific research to examine what really happened. Was Richard a cold-blooded, villainous killer? How did political events of the time affect the king’s behavior? Truly compelling.

The Innocent by Posie Graeme-Evans (2005)

The year is 1450, a dangerous time in medieval Britain. Civil unrest is at its peak and the legitimacy of the royal family is suspect. Meanwhile, deep in the forests of western England, a baby is born. Powerful forces plot to kill both mother and child, but somehow the newborn girl survives. Her name is Anne.
Fifteen years later, England emerges into a fragile but hopeful new age, with the charismatic young King Edward IV on the throne. Anne, now a young peasant girl, joins the household of a wealthy London merchant. Her unusual beauty provokes jealousy, lust, and intrigue, but Anne has a special quality that saves her: a vast knowledge of healing herbs. News of her extraordinary gift spreads, and she is called upon to save the ailing queen. Soon after, Anne is moved into the palace, where she finds her destiny with the man who will become the greatest love of her life — the king himself.

Elizabeth: Captive Princess by Margaret Irwin My copy is a 1945 hardcover, but Sourcebooks is reissuing this second novel in a series in October 2010. This is a follow up to Young Bess, which I enjoyed.
In this, the second of Margaret Irwin’s great trilogy about the life of ‘Good Queen Bess’, Elizabeth I, the imperious, high spirited heroine of Young Bess finds herself the prey of her sister Mary’s jealous…

Shadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick (2005) I had purchased Lords of the White Castle previously, but then I read that Shadow and strongholds was a prequel to White Castle, to I had to get this one. Naturally. =) Laws of Physics at work within the Burton home.
A medieval tale of pride and strife, of coming-of-age in a world where chivalry is a luxury seldom afforded, especially by men of power.
England, 1148—ten-year-old Brunin FitzWarin is an awkward misfit in his own family. A quiet child, he is tormented by his brothers and loathed by his powerful and autocratic grandmother. In an attempt to encourage Brunin’s development, his father sends him to be fostered in the household of Joscelin de Dinan, Lord of Ludlow. Here Brunin will learn knightly arts, but before he can succeed, he must overcome the deep-seated doubts that hold him back.



Hawise, the youngest daughter of Lord Joscelin, soon forms a strong friendship with Brunin. Family loyalties mean that her father, with the young Brunin as his squire, must aid Prince Henry of Anjou in his battle with King Stephen for the English crown. Meanwhile, Ludlow itself comes under threat from Joscelin’s rival, Gilbert de Lacy. As the war for the crown rages, and de Lacy becomes more assertive in his claims for Ludlow, Brunin and Hawise are drawn into each other’s arms.
Now Brunin must defeat the shadows of his childhood and put to use all that he has learned. As the pressure on Ludlow intensifies and a new Welsh threat emerges against his own family’s lands, Brunin must confront the future head on, or fail on all counts….

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Filed under Elizabeth Chadwick, Elizabeth I, Mailbox Monday, Margaret Irwin, Queen Victoria, Richard II

>Mailbox Monday Treasures

>Please don't steal my images!Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. And I am adding what I purchased, swapped, etc.

Warning:
 Exploring Mailbox Mondays across the blogosphere will lead to toppling wishlists and to-be-read-piles! But it’s the thrill of the chase that counts!

This is a little long because I didn’t do a Mailbox Monday last weekm instead I read close to three books!

And it always helps to have a friend who likes to give away books. She is entirely truely generously awesome. Thank you! She sent me books that have been languishing on my wishlist and almost forgotten about:

Jane Boleyn by Julia Fox (PERFECT for the Tudor Mania Challenge!)
In a life of extraordinary drama, Jane Boleyn was catapulted from the obscurity of the Essex countryside to the forefront of Henry VIII’s spectacular court. Born Jane Rochford in about 1505, this daughter of an aristocratic family became lady in waiting to not just one, but five of Henry’s wives. Always at the center of court life and intrigue, Jane attended the parties, the masque balls, and the jousts, and participated in the royal births, the weddings, funerals and personal drama that swirled around the King, his wives and courtiers. What makes Jane Boleyn so unique is that she was a survivor. As Henry’s wives rose and then fell, taking so many down with them, Jane stayed on. Her story gives readers an amazing on-going view of the personal toll that Henry’s long and ruthlessly violent reign took on the people closest to him.

Doomed Queens by Kris Waldherr
Marie Antoinette, Anne Boleyn, and Mary, Queen of Scots. What did they have in common? For a while they were crowned in gold, cosseted in silk, and flattered by courtiers. But in the end, they spent long nights in dark prison towers and were marched to the scaffold where they surrendered their heads to the executioner. And they are hardly alone in their undignified demises. Throughout history, royal women have had a distressing way of meeting bad ends–dying of starvation, being burned at the stake, or expiring in childbirth while trying desperately to produce an heir. They always had to be on their toes and all too often even devious plotting, miraculous pregnancies, and selling out their sisters was not enough to keep them from forcible consignment to religious orders. From Cleopatra (suicide by asp), to Princess Caroline (suspiciously poisoned on her coronation day), there’s a gory downside to being blue-blooded when you lack a Y chromosome. Kris Waldherr’s elegant little book is a chronicle of the trials and tribulations of queens across the ages, a quirky, funny, utterly macabre tribute to the dark side of female empowerment. Over the course of fifty irresistibly illustrated and too-brief lives, Doomed Queens charts centuries of regal backstabbing and intrigue. We meet well-known figures like Catherine of Aragon, whose happy marriage to Henry VIII ended prematurely when it became clear that she was a starter wife–the first of six. And we meet forgotten queens like Amalasuntha, the notoriously literate Ostrogoth princess who overreached politically and was strangled in her bath.While their ends were bleak, these queens did not die without purpose. Their unfortunate lives are colorful cautionary tales for today’s would-be power brokers–a legacy of worldly and womanly wisdom gathered one spectacular regal ruin at a time.

The Sisters of Henry VIII by Maria Perry
A highly detailed history of intricate dynastic political tangles among England, Scotland, and their European neighbors during the 16th century. English actress, journalist, and historian Perry transports readers to a far-off time as she acquaints us with Henry VIII’s lesser-known relatives. The author delves deeply into contemporary sources from an age when royal marriages played a dominant role in the art of politics. She captures the pageantry of power politics in a time when nobility competed with lavish displays of great wealth and conspicuous consumption that in itself suggested power and prestige among the royal houses of Europe. Margaret Tudor, Henry’s elder sister, was widowed when James IV of Scotland died attacking the English at Flodden Field, a Scottish disaster. She later married a Douglas, Lord Angus, an enemy of the volatile Scottish ruling clans, causing herself much angst while fleeing danger with her two sons, potential heirs to the English throne. After a life of turmoil in near-anarchic Scotland, she is remembered as the grandmother of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, and great-grandmother of James VI of Scotland, who became James I of England. Mary Tudor, Henry’s younger sister, married the aged Louis XII of France, became a widow shortly thereafter, then wed the duke of Suffolk, producing more pretenders to the throne. Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn divided the country as many admired the devout, rejected Katharine of Aragon. Thankfully, the book includes a “House of Tudor” chart that will help general readers sort out the crowded cast of characters who shaped many of the leading events of the age. Perry’s insightful account of the king’s sisters and their timesmight well provide currently Tudor-infatuated Hollywood with a good source for future movies and miniseries.~Kirkus Reviews

The First Princess of Wales by Karen Harper
The daughter of a disgraced earl, she matched wits with a prince.

It is the fourteenth century, the height of the Medieval Age, and at the court of King Edward III of England, chivalry is loudly praised while treachery runs rampant. When the lovely and high-spirited Joan of Kent is sent to this politically charged court, she is woefully unprepared for the underhanded maneuverings of her peers.


Determined to increase the breadth of his rule, the king will use any means necessary to gain control of France—including manipulating his own son, Edward, Prince of Wales. Joan plots to become involved with the prince to scandalize the royal family, for she has learned they engineered her father’s downfall and death. But what begins as a calculated strategy soon—to Joan’s surprise—grows into love. When Joan learns that Edward returns her feelings, she is soon fighting her own, for how can she love the man that ruined her family? And, if she does, what will be the cost?
Filled with scandal, court intrigue, and prominent figures of the Medieval Age, The First Princess of Wales has at its center a wonderful love story, which is all the more remarkable because it is true. Karen Harper’s compelling, fast-paced novel tells the riveting tale of an innocent girl who marries a prince and gives birth to a king.

The Perfect Royal Mistress by Diane Haeger
Born into poverty and raised in a brothel, Nell Gwynne sells oranges in the pit at London’s King’s Theater, newly reopened after the plague and the Great Fire devastated the city. Soon, her quick sense of humor and natural charm get her noticed by those who have the means to make her life easier. But the street-smart Nell knows a woman doesn’t get ahead by selling her body. Through talent, charm, intelligence, and sheer determination—as well as a keen understanding of how the world operates—Nell works her way out of the pit and onto the stage to become the leading comedic actress of the day. Her skills and beauty quickly win the attention of all of London—eventually even catching the eye of King Charles II. Their attraction is as real as it is unlikely, and the scrappy orange girl with the pretty face and the quick wit soon finds herself plunged into the confusing and dangerous world of the court, where she learns there are few she can trust—and many whom she cannot turn her back on.
From the gritty streets of seventeenth-century London, to the backstage glamour of its theaters, to the glittering court of Charles II, The Perfect Royal Mistress is a love story for the ages, the rags-to-riches tale of a truly remarkable heroine.

And a goodie, a memoir by a faved childhood author Beverly Cleary: A Girl from Yamhill (Bev is 94 years young! Generations of children have grown up with Henry Huggins, Ramona Quimby, and all of their friends, families, and assorted pets. For everyone who has enjoyed the pranks and schemes, embarrassing moments, and all of the other poignant and colorful images of childhood brought to life in Beverly Cleary books, here is the fascinating true story of the remarkable woman who created them.
I ordered myself some goodies from The Book Depository in the UK, which was just in time since they are now out of the stock of them:

The Sun in Splendour by Jean Plaidy
Reckoned by those about him to be the most handsome man in the country, Edward the fourth has risen to the throne with the help of Warwick, the kingmaker. But even Warwick’s trusted advice cannot convince the King to ignore his passion for the beautiful widow, Elizabeth Woodville – and when she refuses to become his mistress the two are married.

Lords of the White Castle by Elizabeth Chadwick
Based on a remarkable true story of honour, treachery and love spanning the turbulent reigns of four great Mediaeval kings. Award-winning author Elizabeth Chadwick brings the thirteenth century vividly to life in the tale of Fulke FitzWarin. From inexperienced young courtier to powerful Marcher lord, from loyal knight to dangerous outlaw, from lover of many women to faithful husband, Fulke’s life story bursts across the page in authentic detail. A violent quarrel with Prince John, later King John, disrupts Fulke’s life ambition to become ‘Lord of the White Castle’ and leads him to rebel. There are perils for John at every turn. No less dramatic is the dangerous love that Fulke harbours for Maude Walter, a wealthy widow whom John wants for himself. Negotiating a maze of deceit, treachery and shifting political alliances Fulke’s striving is rewarded, but success is precarious. Personal tragedy follows the turbulence of the Magna Carta rebellion, culminating in the destruction of everything for which Fulke has fought. Yet even among the ashes he finds a reason to begin anew.

Paperbackswap:

The Last Days of Henry VIII by Robert Hutchinson
blazing narrative history that boldly captures the end of England’s most despotic ruler and his court — a time of murderous conspiracies, terrifying betrayals, and sordid intrigue Henry VIII’s crimes against his wives are well documented and have become historical lore. But much less attention has been paid to his monarchy, especially the closing years of his reign. Rich with information including details from new archival material and written with the nail-biting suspense of a modern thriller, “The Last Days of Henry VIII” offers a superb fresh look at this fascinating figure and new insight into an intriguing chapter in history. Robert Hutchinson paints a brilliant portrait of this egotistical tyrant who governed with a ruthlessness that rivals that of modern dictators; a monarch who had “no respect or fear of anyone in this world,” according to the Spanish ambassador to his court. Henry VIII pioneered the modern “show trial”: cynical propaganda exercises in which the victims were condemned before the proceedings even opened, proving the most powerful men in the land could be brought down overnight. After thirty-five years in power, Henry was a bloated, hideously obese, black-humored old recluse. And despite his having had six wives, the Tudor dynasty rested on the slight shoulders of his only male heir, the nine-year-old Prince Edward — a situation that spurred rival factions into a deadly conflict to control the throne. “The Last Days of Henry VIII” is a gripping and compelling history as fascinating and remarkable as its subject.

For review:
Eleanor the Queen by Norah Lofts (a reissue)
Eleanor is young, high-spirited, supremely intelligent, heiress to the vast Duchy of Aquitaine – at a time when a woman’s value was measured in terms of wealth. This is the story of a medieval figure – of a princess who led her own knights to the Crusades, who was bride to two kings and mother of Richard the Lion Heart.

For The King by Catherine Delors (for the June Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table event!)
The Reign of Terror has ended, and Napoléon Bonaparte has seized power, but shifting political loyalties still tear apart families and lovers. On Christmas Eve 1800, a bomb explodes along Bonaparte’s route, narrowly missing him but striking dozens of bystanders. Chief Inspector Roch Miquel, a young policeman with a bright future and a beautiful mistress, must arrest the assassins before they attack again. Complicating Miquel’s investigation are the maneuverings of his superior, the redoubtable Fouché, the indiscretions of his own father, a former Jacobin, and two intriguing women.


Based on real events and characters and rich with historical detail, For the King takes readers through the dark alleys and glittering salons of post-revolutionary Paris and is a timeless epic of love, betrayal, and redemption.

And a giveaway win:
Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sanditon by Jane Austen (the same Sanditon that Ic ouldn’t finish because there were zero paragraph breaks or punctuation in my edition! This one will read just fine, thank you!)Penguin Classics edition

And the book that I have wanted forever but never could find it below $55.. so my husband bought it for me =)
Historical Fiction II: A Guide to the Genre (Genreflecting Advisory Series) ~ Sarah L. Johnson (Editor), a fellow blogger at Reading the Past

Johnson has updated her outstanding Historical Fiction: A Guide to the Genre (2005) by covering historical fiction from 2004 through mid-2008 and adding such new features as ISBNs for each book and keyword descriptors after each annotation. Chapter introductions have been updated to reflect changes, and a section on historical-fiction blogs has been added to the chapter on resources. This volume continues rather than replaces the earlier work, adding more than 2,700 new titles. . . . Historical Fiction was an essential purchase for public and school libraries, and Historical Fiction II will also be a must purchase since it covers the latest books in this very popular genre.” ~Booklist

I love how Sarah has the Chapters separated out.. I tried to take a pic with the iPhone but they came out yucky, I still wanted to show you though!

 Click the pics to enlarge them.

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Filed under Austen, Diane Haeger, Elizabeth Chadwick, Jean Plaidy, Mailbox Monday, Tudor