13th century / 1200s
"England, 1238 Raised at the court of King Henry III as a chamber lady to the queen, young Joanna of Swanscombe's life changes forever when she comes into an inheritance far above all expectations, including her own. Now a wealthy heiress, Joanna's arranged marriage to the King's charming, tournament-loving half-brother William de Valence immediately stokes the flames of political unrest as more established courtiers object to the privileges bestowed on newcomers. As Joanna and William strive to build a life together, England descends into a bitter civil war. In mortal danger, William is forced to run for his life, and Joanna is left with only her wit and courage to outfox their enemies and prevent them from destroying her husband, her family, and their fortunes."
An auspicious match. An invitation to war.
As usual with Ms Chadwick's absorbing and beautifully written novels, we follow the main characters - in this case, Joanna and William, through the years, watching them mature and grow, struggling with them through their challenges, sharing their laughter and tears.
As with most novels centred around the facts of our past, there are desperate times, violent times, tragic times, and time for tender love, all of which Ms Chadwick handles with skilful dexterity. Her ability as a writer is second to none, matching the lives of people we may never have heard of alongside the more famous characters of the thirteenth century.
My only grumble is that, yet again, the publisher has set the price of the e-version so high. The hardback (at the time of writing this review, February 2022) is priced at £11.97 on Amazon UK ... the Kindle version is £10.99. No paper, no printing for an e-book, so why this huge amount? (Nor, as with most mainstream, is there a Kindle Unlimited option.) I really do feel that traditional publishers are ripping readers off where e-books are concerned. However, this is purely down to the publishing houses and is totally beyond an author's control. Alas.
Possibly, for some readers the first few chapters may feel a little slow but the pace picks up at the gallop as the ground-rush of historical events swells and grows to dangerous proportion. A time of quiet peace this era was not...
Highly recommended (but if you prefer an e-book version, borrow a copy from your local library.)
Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds
not eligible for our award as this title is an independent review, and was not officially submitted to Discovering Diamonds. In addition, Ms Chadwick has kindly agreed to be one of our finalist judges.