Rating: 4/5 Crowns
Synopsis: Unwanted and unloved, rebellious Miriel Weaver is forced to a convent by her violent stepfather. Her plan to escape from the harsh life of a novice nun crystallises with the arrival of recuperating soldier of fortune Nicholas de Caen. Miriel sees in his pride and self-sufficiency a kindred spirit and once he is well enough to leave, a way out.
The two part in Nottingham on bad terms which are to blight both their lives. When they meet again by chance, they agree to call a truce - but the truce becomes first friendship and then a dangerous passion. Almost too late, Nicholas and Miriel realise that the chain of events triggered by their first meeting could now ensure they never know the pleasure of living...
Review: As I continue to make my way through Elizabeth Chadwick’s backlist, I am repeatedly amazed at her ability to suck you into a story and keep you there until the end -which always comes way too soon. The Marsh King’s Daughter is no exception. Set during the early 1200’s, the story of Miriel (the granddaughter of a successful weaver) and Nicholas (the son of a minor noble who is now in the shipping business) is charming despite its sometimes predictability. An interesting thread that runs throughout is the whereabouts of the royal treasure that King John managed to lose towards the end of his reign.
As usual, Chadwick’s attention to detail immerses you in medieval life and more specifically, the wool/weaving/shipping business of the time. Miriel is not your typical romantic heroine – she steals, she lies and she manipulates her way to a fairly successful and decent way of life. And that’s why I liked her. It’s not that I would condone those types of activities, but Miriel is a survivor and given the miserable lot of most women, she found a way to rise above it and make her life her own to the greatest extent possible.
The majority of the book centers on Miriel’s life and the intervening time periods between the few points where she and Nicholas cross paths. We see Nicholas during those same time periods and get an idea as to the type of man that he is. But Miriel and Nicholas’ lives mostly run parallel to each other and as a result, I thought the romance between Miriel and Nicholas was one of the weaker points of the book – I didn’t totally get how or why they could be so attracted to each other.
Overall an enjoyable and entertaining story. So much so that one day while riding the bus home from work I almost missed my stop!
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