The White Tower.
A terrible vision.
Her home invaded and precious documents stolen.
Lady Isabelle must flee her pursuers, posing as a young male scholar in the New College of St Mary in Oxford. But when she learns she is with child it won’t be long until she is discovered amongst their ranks.
Can she bring herself to love an infant conceived in evil?
And will she ever be reunited with her beloved Richard, or will Sir Henry Lormont’s dagger find him first?
This deftly plotted 15th century novel traverses the well-trodden pilgrimage routes from Oxford to Rome encountering lepers, assassins, sea rovers and historical figures Lady Margaret Beaufort and Edmund Tudor along the way. Superbly researched by a scholar of the period, Clover blends history with the riveting story of a woman who overcomes the restrictions placed on her sex to create a page-turning novel.
Catherine Clover completed her doctoral degree from Trinity College, Oxford and her research about the end of the Hundred Years’ War informs the Maid of Gascony series. She has a particular professional interest in one of the great surviving English medieval treasures, the two-panel painting known as the Wilton Diptych, which plays a key role in the trilogy. Catherine is also producing a series of choral music albums that connect with the characters in the series. Visit www.catherineclover.com to learn more about Catherine and her work.
The story features textual references to a number of choral music pieces. The choir of New College plays a central role in the book. The author has produced an album in collaboration with the New College choir in Oxford, which accompanies the book.
My thoughts: this was an interesting look at a period in history that I’m particularly interested in, as it preceeds the Cousins’ War or War of the Roses, immediately. A volatile time in English history when things could change very rapidly.
Lady Isabelle has endured tragedies and heartbreak, travelling across Europe to Rome in order to carry out an important task, while under threat from an awful man and his allies. Her return to England is hasty, and she loses much that’s important to her, including her faith. But gradually she recovers and becomes guardian to the young Margaret Beaufort – later the mother of Henry VII.
Isabelle is an interesting character, not one of the main figures in this period, she is a mystic from Gascony, given to religious visions, she spends much of her time with priests, monks and nuns. Her family are all murdered as traitors and she is left with nothing. However she is incredibly strong, brave and resilient. Disguised as a man she is able to get into places denied to women at this time – from an Oxford University college to the hostel of the Knights Templar in Rome.
I found her an interesting protagonist and although I haven’t read the first book in the series yet, someone I would like to read more about.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my