What is it?
Historical fiction set in 12th Century England
Who wrote it?
What did I like?
The characters are pretty much fully rounded no matter how you look at them. Afton is definitely the main character, but everyone else who plays a role in the story is complete, ranging from her peasant parents to the reigning royal family members, to the other minor characters who straggle in throughout the novel. The detail is rich, the dialogue is engaging, and the story is captivating. About halfway through, I really had trouble putting it down. I wanted to know what was going to happen to this poor girl who had so much misfortune in her life.
What didn’t I like?
While I really did enjoy this book, I will admit it is exhausting. I invest myself in characters when I read about them, so this one wore me out to experience all the difficulties that these poor people went through. It was actually just painful. The story is great, though. The message is wonderful and uplifting, and it does have a happy ending of a sort. But it also has a lot of overview and narrative distance, which is all right in bits, but when good portions of the book include paragraphs that encompass years it became easier to skim. I’m also not a huge detail person, so some of the description became tedious. But overall, it was a spectacular read.
Should you read it?
I would recommend it. It’s a good book to read as an example of someone who obviously did their research culturally, which doesn’t surprise since Angela Hunt is amazing like that. But if you don’t like culturally rich, detailed setting, and emotional storylines, you probably won’t like this one. In any case, I still think it’s a good book to read. And even though I cringed for the poor characters, I still enjoyed it.