This week - C (clicking on the names will take you to the author website; book titles will take you to Amazon)
Meg Clothier I read the paperback version of The Empress a while ago, and you can find my review of it on Discovering Diamonds. I didn't know much - if anything - about the historical setting but I do now. With constant struggles for power, and frequent regime changes, these were turbulent times and Agnes, the empress of the title, has to learn to use her wits merely to stay alive. It's a bit Game of Thrones-esque, in that not all the characters make it, but it is a brilliant read. I warmed to Agnes; I liked the fact that she wasn't 'feisty', just a young girl who is shaped by her experiences. Theo, too, is a likeable, yet flawed character. The history is explained without slowing the plot, I enjoyed the dialogue even though it is quite modern at times, and the world-building is deftly done.
Elizabeth Chadwick What can I say about Elizabeth Chadwick, other than that she is simply masterful at producing historical novels which teem with believable characters and settings? Her series on William Marshal and his family, beginning with A Place Beyond Courage which features William's father and including the recent Templar Silks, are probably the last word on that most extraordinary knight and I've lost count of how many of her books I've read. I've chosen The Wild Hunt because I think it is one of my favourites. Maybe it's because it's set in Wales, but there is just something about the story of the developing relationship between Guyon and Judith which really stayed with me and this remains my favourite of all Ms Chadwick's books. So far...
Sharon Bennett Connolly I had the pleasure of meeting Sharon a couple of years ago and we had dinner and a long - very long, actually - chat about history. Now she has not one, but two nonfiction books available and I'm happy to say that I have hardback copies of both volumes. Heroines of the Medieval World is a brilliantly-conceived book which examines the lives of various medieval women. I know that one of Sharon's favourites is Nicolaa de la Haye, who defended Lincoln Castle. Sharon has also written about the women of the Norman Conquest, in Silk and the Sword, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and is currently working on her third book, Ladies of the Magna Carta, which will be released through Pen & Sword in May 2020 and she has, I believe, at least two more books in the pipeline.
Stephanie Churchill Stephanie has, I believe, just finished the third volume (click on her name to pre-order) in her Crown of Destiny series about, well, how to describe it? I'd say it's historical-style fantasy. From the opening page of The Scribe's Daughter, I was hooked. What a wonderful heroine Kassia is. Actually, the setting doesn't really matter because this is such a well-crafted story. The plot twists and turns are clever and unexpected, the characters wonderfully three-dimensional and there are light touches of genuine comedy which I really enjoyed. Kassia's journey is part quest, part escape, and the companions she meets along the way help her - and sometimes hinder her - to solve the mystery of what has happened to her family. All the threads are nicely tied up, but all is also set up for Volume Two. A great read.
Nicola Cornick I was delighted when Nicola sent me a paperback copy of The Woman in the Lake and again, I reviewed for Discovering Diamonds. I think I read this book in about two sittings; it is a real page turner, full of plot twists and coincidences which turn out to be anything but chance. The history of Swindon is used to great dramatic effect. The events of the past have an effect on the future, and the future also seems to affect the past. I liked the main present-day character, Fenella. She is the link between the past and the present, as we gradually find out the identity of the woman in the lake and, more importantly, who put her there. This is a really engrossing read. No point, however small, is insignificant. I also liked the way certain episodes were shown from different points of view.
I've read all of these books and can recommend them. So if you're looking for a weekend read, check them out. And join me next week when in a rather boring and predictable plot development, we move on to D 😊