The Ruthless Yeomen

Valerie Anand, Author St. Martin's Press $19.95 (342p) ISBN 978-0-312-08884-2
The family of English serfs whose saga began in The Proud Villeins remains in bondage as Anand continues the series into the latter part of the 13th century. In the village of Rushley, Isabel of Northfield, young wife of Alfred Plowman, envies her beautiful cousin Rohese, who marries a freeman. When Alfred dies in an accident, Isabel seeks to raise her station by entering a nearby abbey, illegally offering as dowry the land to which she is tied. She is accepted for the land, which the venal abbess wrests from its rightful owner, but is turned into a kitchen drudge. An attempt at revenge fails, as does her bid for happiness through a love affair with a freeman. In her old age, she passes on to young kinswoman Nicola a talisman of their family's free ancestor, who was unjustly made a serf before the time of William the Conqueror. The unhappily wed Nicola and her brutal but talented craftsman husband, Thomas Woodcarver, escape bondage through deceit and build the possibility of a better future for their descendants. With a thoroughgoing knowledge of medieval life and customs, Anand weaves a moving tale of courageous men and women who, though brutalized by their surroundings, nurture the spark of hope. (Mar . )
Reviewed on: 03/01/1993
Release date: 03/01/1993
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