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Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Love Knot by Elizabeth Chadwick

The Love Knot One of my favourite reads of 2008

The Love Knot is set during the turmoil of civil war between King Stephen & Empress Matilda in 12th century England.

Oliver Pascal returns home from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land after losing his wife in childbirth. After losing his lands to King Stephen, Oliver becomes a hearth Knight to Robert of Gloucester, illegitimate brother to Empress Matilda.

Oliver rescues the only survivors of a village raided by mercenaries, Richard an orphaned boy is the illegitimate son of the old king and half-brother to Earl Robert & Catrin, maid to the young boy's mother and widowed.

Richard and Catrin are accepted into the household of Robert of Gloucester but Catrin being an independent, spirited young woman, soon tires of court life. Ehelreda, the old midwife & healer offers to teach Catrin the trade of a midwife & the secrets of her ancient art. I thought Ethel was an endearing character and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about childbirth and healing in the middle ages.

The Love Knot is a carefully-woven tale, each page flowing with rich colour & detail of the period. The characters are beautifully portrayed & I was carried along by the emerging love between Oliver & Catrin. I liked the fact that they were 'ordinary' characters, a landless knight and a lady's maid. Much of Elizabeth Chadwick's research is carried out as a member of Regia Anglorum, an early medieval re-enactment society; while aiding authenticity Elizabeth does mention that it is not a guarantee to 100% accuracy.

This is a vivid historical read intricately woven with romance & mystery.

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