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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book Review: Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick

 
Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick
ARC, Paperback, 544 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark
September 1, 2011
★★★★☆

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from Publisher for review
Matilda, daughter of Henry I, knows that there are those who will not accept her as England’s queen when her father dies. But the men who support her rival Stephen do not know the iron will that drives her. 

Adeliza, Henry’s widowed queen and Matilda’s stepmother, is now married to a warrior who fights to keep Matilda off the throne. But Adeliza, born with a strength that can sustain her through heartrending pain, knows that the crown belongs to a woman this time.

In the anarchy, in a world where a man’s word is law, how can Adeliza obey her husband while supporting Matilda? How long can Matilda fight for the throne that she has struggled so bitterly to win?

Lady of the English might be more aptly named Ladies of the English as this story is just as much about the widowed queen Adeliza as it is about the rightful queen Matilda. We are privy to their respective worlds as Matilda struggles to fight for that which should be hers by right. We see Adeliza struggle between how she wants to help Matilda and how she must do as her husband wants. Matilda must might against her cousin Stephen and his supporters to take back England for her and her heirs.

A shocker for me about this book by Elizabeth Chadwick is that it didn’t immediately suck me right into the lives of the characters. I felt that the beginning of the novel was more slow and wading – you didn’t just jump right in. As the novel progressed I began to connect with Adeliza and very much enjoyed her story. Toward the end I even cried as her story came to a close – Chadwick was at her best in pulling the heartstrings and manipulating the reader’s emotions. But, while I liked Adeliza, I just could not get into Matilda. I felt like she was cold and distant to the reader – and even though that was sort of how she presented herself to the world, I just couldn’t connect with her enough to care if she won back her crown or not. I kept looking forward to the next Adeliza passage.

This was my first book by this author that wasn’t in some way related to the Bigod or Marshall families – and I didn’t love it quite as much as those.

I have to say that Chadwick excels in the details. Every moment in the world felt real, as if you were breathing in the same air as the characters. You get it all – sights, sounds, tastes, smells. The minor or sideline characters were very well developed and I came to care for many of them as well. You really get to see the young Henry II and can believe how he grew up to become the great king who would eventually marry Eleanor of Aquitaine.

So overall this book was sort of hit and miss for me. Not my favorite Chadwick read by a long shot, but still a very good book overall.

Author Elizabeth Chadwick also has written many, many other books, a few of the most recent are: For the King’s Favor and To Defy a King. You can visit Chadwick’s website for additional information about her books. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

You can also watch the book trailer below.

My reviews of other books by this author:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).





Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

9 comments:

  1. For a different take on this period, you should read When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman. It's not as quick a read as Lady of the English, but it's much more detailed and enjoyable.

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  2. I really like Elizabeth Chadwick, she has a certain way to make you feel like you're in the room with the characters.

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  3. Rebecca - I have that book on my shelf but haven't had the chance to get to it. Good to know, thanks!

    Carole Rae - I agree, she really gets the feeling details right!

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  4. I think it is hard to feel connected to Matilda no matter who is writing about her! I really liked this one and can't wait for her take on Eleanor of Aquitaine.

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  5. I haven't read a Chadwick in quite some time. Guess I'm due, plus I like to read about those little known to me characters of early English history. Thanks Heather :)

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  6. I adore Chadwick's works. Her ability to weave historical fact into a dramatic character study leaves me in awe.
    Excited to read this newest one.

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  7. Marg - I can't wait for the Eleanor books too. I'm interested in her take on this powerful woman. I just wasn't really feeling Matilda.

    Jenny - Definately worth the read if you enjoy reading Chadwick's books.

    Delicious Romance from Cerise DeLand - It really is her characters that totally move the story along.

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  8. I do love her books :)
    I do think I liked them both equally but yes it was fun to read about Adeliza

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  9. Blodeuedd - I felt more from Adeliza than I did from Matilda, but as a character she was well written too.

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