Tuesday, February 20, 2007

2 Reads

The Clerk's Tale

Written by Margaret Frazer and published by Berkeley in 2002, this is part of an ongoing mystery series featuring a nun, Sister Frevisse, as the sleuth. This particular book is pretty much in the center of the series, but is a standalone. TCT is set in the town of Goring in the year 1446. The king's crowner (official who investigates deaths) has been found murdered in a garden in a convent. His son Christopher steps into his shoes & is forced to investigate his own father's death. Sister Frevisse is pulled into this by virtue of being at St. Mary's with her Domina (Mother Superior) to visit the Domina's elderly cousin Sister Ysobel, dying of tuberculosis. Sometimes justice delayed isn't in fact justice denied. Features greed, lust and legitimacy issues. Plus- just how long can one hold on to grudges from their youth? Apparently quite a long time. Excellent. Longer than Ellis Peters, but shorter than Michael Jecks. Deceptively light in tone. Very well researched.

To the Castle

Written by Joan Wolf and published by Mira in 2005. Set in the early 12th century in England. Ms. Wolf has brought the feud between King Stephan and Empress Maud (or Matilda, I don't remember) from earlier times for plot purposes. Ordinarily it might not have bothered me so much except that I am an avid fan of Ellis Peters, whose Brother Cadfael books are all set in the 9th century & prominently discuss this feud. So that was the first problem. Eleanor de Bonvile (2nd problem- I continually thought of her as vile instead of ville which is the more common spelling of this name), anyway, has been removed from the convent after 9 years & is er..persuaded to marry Roger de Roche for dynastic purposes. Only 6 months away from her final vows, Nell feels angry, betrayed and abandoned by her parents. Roger, OTOH, is merely happy that she is attractive enough to bed & 'get children on' as his grandpa puts it. They are both of an age, she 18 & he 22- so that worked. This was well done, and normally I love medievals, but somehow TTC simply didn't grab me. Nell & Roger are a cute couple facing arduous political and personal circumstances. Their characterization was well & realistically drawn.


Tara Marie said...

I hate To The Castle, the writing was horribly simplistic. Loved her Dark Ages series especially the one about King Alfred the Great.

I didn't pay that much attention to historical detail. I may be wrong but wasn't Matilda/Maud Henry I's daughter and didn't he die early in the 12th century and wasn't Stephen the grandson of William the Conqueror? I'll have to wikipedia it--LOL

Bookwormom said...

Tara- It wasn't one of the deepest characterizations I've read lately, but I don't expect that from Ms. Wolf so I found TTC was pretty much on target. I didn't feel it was necessary to the plot to bring forward the Stephen/ Maud issue & that bothered me. There could have been enough going on with Nell's nearly being a nun & the dad problem.

It was light & quick & that was all I really expected from Ms. Wolf, so that was fine for me.