The Morning Gift

Diana Norman, Author St. Martin's Press $15.95 (285p) ISBN 978-0-312-00159-9
Reminiscent of Kristin Lavransdatter in its gritty, unsparing realism as well as the medieval setting, this absorbing historical romance follows the hard life and times of a Norman noblewoman whose future becomes tied to that of England. Less than a century after William's Conquest, Matilda de Rise is given in marriage at the age of 14 to a Saxon baron who in turn presents her with the estate of Dungesey in the English Fens as a morning gift, the day after their nuptials. As wars rage after the death of Henry I, Matilda bears a son, becomes a widow and adjusts to watery life at Dungesey. Sharp-tongued and alert, Matilda focuses her existence on preserving the estate for her son, whom she sends to France to be raised in the court of the Plantagenets. The constant shifting of political power and, as a woman, her own lack of status bring her into a second marriage and then to a third with a sadistic mercenary. Military maraudings and diplomatic maneuverings on both sides of the Channel drain Matilda of her wealth, well-being and sanity. Finding refuge at Dungesey, she keeps it from falling into the wrong hands until young Henry is ready to cross the Channel to claim England as his own. Norman ( Fitzempress' Law has a sure touch with historical fiction, creating recognizable characters and rendering their times with immediacy. (January 12)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1985
Release date: 01/01/1985
Hardcover - 544 pages - 978-0-7089-1629-2
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