First and foremost, I am a voracious reader of so-called historical fiction ; not the bodice rippers but the books that tell the stories of the past. Like "Through a Glass Darkly" or "Mists of Avalon" etc. I have long been fascinated by the period of time that is called the Middle Ages. I have haunted The Cloisters museum in NYC with its medieval tapestries (fabulous) and furniture, set in an actual cloister. The book "Northumberland Dreaming: came to my attention in a roundabout way; I had read "Dear Companion" by Kelly Joyce Neff. "Dear Companion" is a book about a remembered past life, of Martha Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson's wife. The publisher mentions "Northumberland Dreaming" in the preface of "Dear Companion" as another book in the River Lethe series. These are, obviously from the series name, about past lives remembered; the River Lethe being the river of forgetfulness in Greek myth. I bought "Northumberland Dreaming" and was not disappointed with it. Having cried my way through half a box of tissues with "Dear Companion" and having been impressed with the truth that rang through Ms Neff/Mrs Jefferson's words, I was ready to read something else in the series. The reason I like these books so much is the historical accuracy that comes from a person simply talking about the their life. Now an author who is constructing a book set in another time period has to gather and cull facts and then bring these researched facts into some semblance of order while utilizing them in a story. Either these two ladies, Kelly Joyce Neff and Mary Rhees Mercker are unbelievably talented researchers and writers or these are true. That 's how convincing the voices of Martha Jefferson and Sir John are.
Sir John, of "Northumberland Dreaming" is a knight in the 1100's, living in Northern England. He lives his life, managing his property and caring for his people and family. The depth of detail as well as his obvious love and caring shines through with each page. Sir John, has a voice that is charming and engaging. His spiritality, his caring and sensitivity, these are all things that draw you in and make you like Sir John. Sitting and reading his book, because it is his book, made me feel as though I were sitting at the feet of some older relative who was telling about "how things were when..." You know him at the end of the book.
Mary Mercker, the author, is actually a descendent of Sir John, but does believe she was him in a past life. She is not merely telling oft told family tales. Missouri born and raised, Mary Mercker went to England and found the ruins and proof of the places that she could see in her head with Sir John's eyes. Included in the book are photos of the present day ruins of the buildings and places that Sir John actually lived in and saw in his daily life. Mary Mercker has written a very important book, not only because it is a wonderful story, but it is a tool to teach about the past. History is not boring if you know those who make it on a personal basis, which you will.
The only warning I would give is this; if you are looking for a quick superficial,New Age read, this is not it. If you love biographies and are interested in an authoritative look at a true life in the Middle Ages, then this book is perfect.