Tuesday, December 14, 2010

For the King's Favor: Henry II 's Royal Romance

For the King’s Favor by Elizabeth Chadwick (F CHA Main)

Reviewed by Susan Wolfe

Like a medieval tapestry, this novel is beautifully written. Elizabeth Chadwick weaves together a captivating story of real people and events. She has the ability to breathe life into history and make it feel like yesterday.

Set in the medieval period of Henry II and Richard the Lionhearted, Ida de Tosney is a royal ward who becomes Henry II’s mistress at a young age. She bears him a son, but wants freedom and finds it in Roger Bigod. Roger is a young knight fighting for his inheritance. His father had defied the king in a revolt and Roger has to prove himself to be the king’s man. Ida and he meet at court and there is a spark between them. After Ida gives birth to Henry’s child, the king starts to lose interest in her and she knows that she will need a plan to protect herself. Henry will marry her off but she wants happiness. She eventually does marry Roger, but is subject to the king’s command and must sacrifice her son.

The story shifts between Ida and Roger, keeping it fresh with their duel perspective. The attention to historical detail is sublime, never intruding yet creating the background of court intrigue, crusades, a king’s kidnapping, and plotting of the royal brothers.

Basically this is a biographical love story. Although fiction, Chadwick has done her research. The characters are authentic and you get to know their habits and likes, such as Roger’s craving for fine hats and Ida’s love for embroidery. Chadwick lists her historical resources. But she goes further, including an Akashic record search (the records of an individual life’s energy) It added more perspective and was also fascinating reading.

It is a poignant story of real people with real problems. Artfully done.

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