on 19 June 2009
Anne Blakhall shared a tailoring business with her husband Matthew, a marriage arranged between Matthew and her father. The marriage has worked, but now six years later Anne is widowed. Matthew had protected his wife by giving her the right to continue on the business alone. Although after a time she had several offers of marriage she has chosen not to, but has taken a lover - Daved Weir, a foreign merchant whom she loves deeply. But there are problems in that Daved is a Jew, which places them both in deadly peril, as Jews have been banished from England.
Master Greene has a mission to transport a shipment of gold on behalf of his late murdered master the Duke of Suffolk back into England. Dame Frevisse of the St Frideswide's nunnery is in London to obtain vestments for her cousin, Lady Alice, Her Grace of Sussex. Under cover of providing material and a tailor for the vestments, Master Greene enlists the aid of Dame Frevisse in delivering the gold to Lady Alice. Although she is suspicious of its origins, Master Greene convinces Frevisse that Lady Alice is in dire need of the money and that the conveyers of the gold are foreign merchants only allowed into the country for a limited time, so she reluctantly agrees for her cousin's sake she will help.
Whilst taking the opportunity of some shopping in London they hear news of the Kentish rebels being as close as Blackheath, not ten miles away and vow to cut short their visit and head back to the nunnery. Then a high ranking churchman is murdered, which creates considerable unrest, particularly against the King.
Much of the story is centred around the persecution of Jews, and the love Anne Blackwell has for her lover Daved. Dame Fevisse is a calming voice in a volatile story. I wondered just what women were really like in an age when they couldn't just go out and see what was happening, but had to wait indoors until news was brought to them, unable to venture forth unless accompanied by a man. I found the whole concept unacceptable, but marvelled that women have still, despite the confinements they had, evolved to what we are today.
Very highly recommended.
on 15 January 2007
FIFTEENTH in series and still going strong...If you haven't become involved with Margaret Frazer's evocative stories of the 1400s then please taste and see. She is extraordinarily thorough in her research and each detail - clothing worn, the state of the streets - is convincing, as is the story-line - riots in London, a passionate love affair, secret lives, and all the unguessed-at background to murder.
Dame Frevisse has murders to solve without the aid of any modern techniques - only her ability to ask questions, to observe and to reason. The sheer variety of her experiences is hugely entertaining, and never far-fetched. That said, this is not the best of the books: though the characters are sharply-observed, and very real, other stories have a wider scope which touches on a wider landscape. But if you enjoy these books you will want to read this one straight through without stopping ... just like all the others!