LADY OF THE ENGLISH
Breathing life into historical personages is hallmark Chadwick. With deft skill she presents the medieval world teeming with power and pageantry. From mundane to great events, all are set before the reader like a feast for the senses. The novel explores the lives of two very different woman, Matilda, Dowager Empress of Germany, only daughter and legitimate heir of Henry I of England, and Adeliza, Henry’s second queen.
Henry’s only son is dead and Matilda is his chance to have his bloodline continue. Henry forces his nobles to twice swear to uphold her right to the crown after she rebels and then relents to marry Geoffery, young Cont Anjou. Of similar age, Adeliza acts as peacemaker between headstrong Matilda and determined Henry. Their friendship grows as Matilda survives a stormy marriage bound by passion and the desire to see her son crowned king after her. At Henry’s death, his nephew, Stephen of Boise, seizes control of the crown and treasury. Matilda seethes and waits to gather money and forces to battle for her rights. Adeliza knows the crown belongs to Matilda, but is helpless in the coming war. She remarries, finding love and children as a reward, but conflict too, as her husband is sworn to Stephen. She refuses to abandon Matilda in her struggle to fulfill her father’s legacy. (SOURCEBOOKS, Sep., 508 pp., $14.99)