Genre: Historical Fiction
US publication: September 2010
When Roger Bigod, heir to the powerful earldom of Norfolk, arrives at court to settle an inheritance, he meets Ida de Tosney, young mistress to King Henry II. In Roger, Ida sees a chance for lasting love, but their decision to marry carries an agonizing price. It's a breathtaking novel of making choices, not giving up, and coping with the terrible shifting whims of the king.
Like with all fiction she does have some artistic freedom, because we don't know everything, like how old Ida really was. But Chadwick always stays close to the truth and does her best to make it as historically accurate as possible, and that is what I love about her books. They are true to facts, but at the same time she makes history come alive as she write about people that have lived, like Roger and Ida, or when she creates something new.
Ida de Tosney is a royal ward, and mistress of King Henry II, she gives him a son, but she wants freedom and finds it in Roger Bigod who is fighting over his inheritance with his half brothers. This is the story of their love, children and about a country in a turbulent time.
I can really see myself there, Chadwick breaths life in times gone by and history feels like yesterday. If it's court procedure, clothes or how they act. In this book the characters have lived for real and from that she pieces together a wonderful story. Ida does what she must, what could a ward do when the king wants her in his bed. In Roger she sees a chance to get away. He is here a very calm and sensible man, not at all like his father. Together they make a good pair. William Marshall also makes appearances, Henry II and his family, and Ida's son with Henry. It sure is a more interesting way to learn about history than reading in a textbook.
The story never gets boring, they go on with their lives, and because of the time there is always something going on. Henry's son fighting against him, Richard the Lionheart going on crusade, and of course when Roger tries to get his lands back and his father's title. The quiet moments are just as good, and I end the book with a smile.
Recommendation and final thoughts:
To every HF fan yes, of course, and to the rest of you too. This is a lovely piece of historical fiction. The book makes me want to go there, just to breath that same air for a moment or two. The book made me remember why I love her books in the first place. And you know when they invent a time machine I will go there (just as long as I take some heavy antibiotics and a toothbrush with me ;)
Cover: Truly lovely. I have to say something about the UK one too because that one I love too, there is this pre-raphaelite painting just like it. And she is stitching the Norfolk banner there, so perfect.
The Winners of Highland Hellcat by Mary Wine
Both winners have been notified and the books are on their way