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Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Marsh King's Daughter by Elizabeth Chadwick

Genre: Historical/Romance

Copyright: 1999

Pages: 408

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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Blodeuedd said...

Hm perhaps a Chadwick I could check out since I do not tend to like her "real" stories

Teddyree said...

Engrossing enough to make you miss your stop, I like the sound of that. I loved the 4 Chadwick novels I've read but this is one of many still waiting on my bookshelf :-)

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

This looks and sounds like a wonderful read. I have not read Elizabeth Chadwick.

Nadine said...

I loved this book!!! But then again, I've loved every single one of Elizabeth Chadwick's books!!

ibeeeg said...

I have read one Chadwick book and enjoyed it. This sounds like one that I may enjoy as well.

Daphne said...

Blodeuedd - Some of her earlier books focus on fictional characters but her attention to detail is still amazing. I hope you decide to check it out!

Teddyree and Nadine - Aren't her books the best?!!

Sheila - Just to let you know, there are two Elizabeth Chadwicks - this one is the British author (not the American one). Unfortunately many of her books are not available new in the US (although that is starting to change) but you can get free shipping from the Book Depository in the UK or check out used book sites or your library.

ibeeeg - Chadwick's books are like potato chips - you can't stop with just one!

Susie Tudor Daughter said...

Thanks for this great review! I have this book and have not yet read it. I am currently reading The Greatest Knigh and loving it. Now I am very anxious to read this one.

dolleygurl said...

It is mentioned in passing in The Scarlet Lion about the treasure King John lost - so it is interesting it comes up again. I am very much enjoying the 2 Chadwick's I have read - looking forward to reading more. Thanks for the review.

chelleyreads said...

hmmm... sounds like an interesting romance. i'm not that into the whole nottingham/king john/robin hood legend but i might make an exception for this book. great review!


Daphne said...

Susie - I loved The Greatest Knight as well and ever since, I've had a crush on William Marshall!!

Dolley - I loved the Scarlet Lion as well which only gave me a bigger crush on The Marshall!

Michelle - Although there are passing references to King John, there isn't anything about Robin Hood in this story.

Jenny Girl said...

Maybe I'll do better with her fictional characters, becuase the real ones I'm reading now are meh. Thanks for the review!

misskallie2000 said...

I love books about this era. I am into all this stuff-? LOL I have been an avid reader for over 55 yrs and alot of my earlier reads were set during 1500-1800 and I really loved them.
Thanks for the Wonderful review.

Alaine - Queen of Happy Endings said...

Hi Daphne, wonderful review! It's a book I have sitting on my book shelf waiting for me to read it. It will have to be soon!

Daphne said...

Jennygirl - I'm sorry to hear you aren't enjoying the book you are currently reading - her older books have more fictional characters and a little more romance. You might like those better.

Misskallie - I hope you get a chance to read it.

Alaine - What are you waiting for?!!