Customer Reviews


83 Reviews
5 star:
 (51)
4 star:
 (23)
3 star:
 (6)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Master of Her Craft
Lady of the English I can never wait to get my hands on one of Elizabeth Chadwick's books, I know I am in for a treat!

Lady of the English is about two women. First of all the Empress Matilda (as she is called in this telling) and Adaliza of Louvain the second wife of Henry I. The story begins when the newly widowed Empress Matilda is called home to England...
Published on 15 July 2011 by jerelyn

versus
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Praise for Chadwick's latest medieval tale.
Being a die hard fan of Elizabeth Chadwick, I must admit I awaited the arrival of Lady of the English with great impatience. Upon it's arrival, I immediately began the journey into the lives of Matilda and Adeliza. For this book is about both women.

Ms. Chadwick's take on Matilda is very much tempered with support and excuses for this very disparaged Empress...
Published on 28 Jun 2011 by Lynne M. Heslip


‹ Previous | 1 29 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Master of Her Craft, 15 July 2011
By 
jerelyn "Pauli" (St. Paul, MN, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Lady Of The English (Hardcover)
Lady of the English I can never wait to get my hands on one of Elizabeth Chadwick's books, I know I am in for a treat!

Lady of the English is about two women. First of all the Empress Matilda (as she is called in this telling) and Adaliza of Louvain the second wife of Henry I. The story begins when the newly widowed Empress Matilda is called home to England by her father, after the disastrous death of Matilda's only legitimate brother. Henry has married a teenage Adaliza in hopes of siring a male heir but has been unsuccessful which is quite astounding as he is known to have had and claimed about 20 illegitimate children. At least one conceived while he was married to Adaliza.

Matilda was soon married to Geoffrey of Anjou, who was 14 nearly 15 when he married Matilda a mature woman of around 26. You can't write a story about Matilda with out writing about the Anarchy of King Stephens reign. But the political aspects, and the battles take second place to the story of these two very different women, who find they have more in common than you initially think. This is a book about the more intimate aspects of these women's lives, difficult marriages, duty, unrequited love. When Henry becomes resigned to the fact that there will be no heir except Matilda's son Henry he forces his barons to swear to uphold Matilda's right to rule. This is extraordinary because no woman has ever ruled England in her own right. Nearly all the barons were of Norman descent and French Salic law barred women from succession to the throne. I guess I have read enough about Matilda that I really didn't learn anything new about her.

I found myself more interested in Adaliza story however, mainly because her story was one that I was only slightly familiar with. Chadwick's depiction rings true showing Adaliza's pain in not being able to fulfill the duty she believed was her destiny, that being to give Henry I a male heir. Her frustration and despair is palatable, as Matilda who is vastly unhappy in her marriage begins having her children, Adaliza become resigned to the will of God. Adaliza second marriage to William d'Aubigny 1st Earl of Arundel a stanch supported of King Stephens tests Adaliza considerable diplomatic skills. She walks a fine line between her beloved husband's loyalty to Stephen and the love and loyalty that she holds for Matilda and then to Henry for she believes that the only way to peace is to see Henry on the throne of England.

Chadwick has written enough about this time period as to be proficient in the facts, customs, and culture. What makes her unique is the other aspects of her research. Her participation in the Regia Anglorum has given her insights to the tactile world that these people lived in, the foods they ate the clothing they wore. Along with her use of the Akashic Record, she is able to convey this period so adeptly that you are easily lost in the world she brings to life. E.C. in my opinion is what every writer of historical fiction should be. She doesn't defame the dead, she doesn't skue the facts. If she takes liberties she points them out honestly in her authors notes and gives her reasons for doing so. A solid 5 star read from one of the best!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Mathilda Novel Yet, 30 May 2011
This review is from: Lady Of The English (Hardcover)
**Full Disclosure. I have never posted on Amazon UK before, but I have over 300 reviews posted on regular Amazon. I am posting this here because this amazing book is not yet available in the States.**

"If she thought a man was a fool, she said so to his face in front of others, and gave no quarter. She was tall, slender, beautiful, desirable. . "

This is how Empress Mathilda is described. This is the woman this novel is about. She was the daughter and the only surviving heir to Henry I. The men of England got on their knees three times in front of her and three times, swore to uphold her as their queen. When her father died, however, they upheld her cousin Stephen instead. Mathilda was enraged and thus, a battle began to retain her crown and her country for not necessarily herself, but her heirs.

The novel begins in this manner, with Mathilda arriving in England from Germany where he husband, an emperor, has died. She begins her first steps towards inheriting the throne by abiding by her father's wishes and marrying Geoffrey of Anjou. This is not a happy partnership. He is a young, arrogant whelp and her thoughts. . well, here's a quote from the brave and opinionated Mathida, "No more of an abomination than me being made to wed an idiot who is as far beneath me as a pile of dung under the sky. . You may be my husband, but you will never be my lord and master and you will never amount to anything more than a scrawny cockerel on top of your little midden heap!"

I love this woman. Nevertheless, despite her strong words, duty prevails and her and Geoffrey manage to do what they are supposed to do and they breed heirs. This makes Mathilda all the more eager to ensure that she obtains the throne of England. "She gazed down at this child whom she had not wanted to conceive because of fear, because of anger, because her life was a battleground over which she had so little control. Now the field had changed. Her fight was for him now.."

Meanwhile, Stephen takes England and offers favors left and right till the coffers run out of money. Mathilda is just biding her time and waiting for loyalty to shift and then England shall be hers. Adeliza, Henry's former queen, is between a rock and a hard place as her new hubby supports Stephen, but she believes the throne belongs to her stepdaughter, Mathilda. These two experience much love and passion fraught with friction over their opposing sides. I loved their part of tale and in the end, had to blink tears away from my eyes. I won't reveal why.

Also on Mathilda's side is her half brother Robert and and Brian FitzCount. Brian is a doll who will do anything for Mathilda. He loves her as more than a queen. Will anything come of this unspoken passion?

"Picking up his sword, he drew a shaken breath. He had to carry this through, and write his will in blood and fire, because how else was he going to be a leader of men, keep his word to Mathilda and give her a crown?"

But Mathilda can't forget that all these men who swore fealty to her, also swore fealty to Stephen when it most suited them. "She was well aware that men who knelt to her and smiled one day would as likely stab her in the back and abandon her on another." Who can she trust to stay by her side and make her once and for all, the lady of the English?

Towards the end of the novel, readers get a good look at what Henry II has the potential to become. The young Henry is full of vigor, charisma, and spunk. I found myself enamored with his character despite his mere fourteen years of age.

As usual, Chadwick manages to completely immerse the reader in medieval times. After an hour of reading, I would have to shake my head and remind myself I am Tara in Utah, not Mathilda escaping a castle in the middle of a snow drenched night clothed entirely in white, not Adeliza with a belly full of baby, burning letters in the fire. It's not solely drama, however, as Chadwick managed to inject little surprise bits of humor into the novel.
Here is Geoffrey bragging of his sexual prowess, "I am adept at hunting through forests and finding hidden streams."

A point to ponder from Miles FitzWalter, "Those who walk with their heads in the air usually don't see the s**t on the ground until they tread in it."

A LOL moment in the Author's Notes regarding the real Empress, "I also have a notion (that I can't prove) that Mathilda suffered from acute premenstrual tension and this might account for some of her sharp behaviour. A fraught political situation and a certain time of the month may just have combined to create disaster for her."

And not funny, but my favorite quote in the book from the Empress herself, "....it is twice as important that a woman should be educated, and twenty times as difficult for her to be heard."
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best historical writing around today, 30 May 2011
By 
Carole Blake "caroleblake" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Lady Of The English (Hardcover)
Elizabeth Chadwick's novels really do illuminate the past. Her characters leap off the page, and live in my head for weeks after I've finished reading. I've learned more about early medieval history, and the complicated politics and loyalties of the period, than in all the history classes I've ever attended. Each novel brings her a wider audience, not only in English, but in many languages around the world. I declare my bias: I am her agent. I fell in love with her words on the page when she sent me her first manuscript more than 20 years ago, and have been privileged to read every one since. If amazon will allow someone to post a review who declares they have not read the novel, then I hope they will allow mine to appear as well. I have read every one of this fine writer's novels, and enjoyed them tremendously, both personally and professionally.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another cracking tale from a mistress of the art., 16 May 2014
By 
EleanorB - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Lady Of The English (Paperback)
Elizabeth Chadwick is a first class writer of historical fiction and this novel takes as its theme the period of the Anarchy: an awful time in English history when rival claimants to the throne of England ravaged the country in their attempts to gain supremacy.

In the early 12th century huge dynastic problems arose when the young heir to Henry the First was lost in the sinking of the White Ship: the absence of other legitimate sons meant that Henry had to declare his daughter, Matilda, as heiress despite the antipathy of all parties to a female ruler.

A second marriage which should have produced a male heir to take the pressure off Matilda, proved barren. Matilda's cousin Stephen drew many supporters as much because of his gender as his (poor) leadership skills and he was declared king.

Around these basic facts swirls a wonderful tale of Matilda, by her early 20s the widow of the Holy Roman Emperor. Her reluctant second marriage to the teenaged Geoffrey of Anjou gives her a power base from which to produce heirs for England, and also to launch her attempt to take the English crown, which was her birthright. Although courageous and capable, Matilda is not a people person and her haughty pride and sense of entitlement win her few friends; indeed her attempt at a coronation in Westminster sees her run out of town by irate Londoners who will have none of her.

The contrasting female character is the gentle Adeliza, Henry the First's childless widow, who cares for Matilda as a family member, but also as a friend and is one of the few people who can penetrate the Empress's rigid outer shell. Adeliza's own second marriage is happy and highly fruitful, but places her and Matilda on opposing sides as her new husband is a staunch supporter of King Stephen.

All the characters on both sides of the contested throne are brilliantly drawn, with inner lives and outward, sometimes, conflicting loyalties. Adeliza marries the love of her life, but Matilda is only ever married for political advantage and must always deny the feelings she has for her most loyal supporter, Brian Fitzcount. The timeless themes of love, longing and loss are beautifully expressed.

Matilda's lasting legacy, of course, was through her eldest son: Henry the Second, King of England and lord of the vast Angevin Empire.

This is super historical fiction and this author never disappoints in bringing this long dead world to life through her incredibly deep and thorough research.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Praise for Chadwick's latest medieval tale., 28 Jun 2011
By 
Lynne M. Heslip (Howell, MI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lady Of The English (Hardcover)
Being a die hard fan of Elizabeth Chadwick, I must admit I awaited the arrival of Lady of the English with great impatience. Upon it's arrival, I immediately began the journey into the lives of Matilda and Adeliza. For this book is about both women.

Ms. Chadwick's take on Matilda is very much tempered with support and excuses for this very disparaged Empress. And although the book has a rather sad and irritating overtone, I found Ms. Chadwick's prose to be as interesting as ever and, I am sure, historically accurate. It must have been a monumental task to sift through the written historical records to find much of anything redeeming in Matilda's treatment of those around her.

However, even with Chadwick's numerous attempts to excuse Matilda's behavior, I found I could not like her at all. And that totally colored my enjoyment of the book.

Ms. Chadwick's treatment of Adeliza was curiously benign, and I wonder why so much of the storeline was devoted to her. Perhaps it was to show that Matilda did, at least, have one friend.

I am glad that I purchased this book, as I think Elizabeth Chadwick is an exceptional author, and meticulous in her research. And I eagerly await her next book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Master Storyteller..., 24 Oct 2011
By 
jaffareadstoo (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Lady Of The English (Hardcover)
Lady of the English is set in the 1100's, and follows the lives of two very different women, Matilda and Adeliza.

Matilda, the only daughter of Henry I, was used as a political pawn for all of her life. As a young child she was married to the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry V, until his death in 1125 resulted in her father using her again to make a political marriage, this time with the Count of Anjou. Following the untimely death of her brother William, Matilda was regarded by some of the English barons as the rightful heir to the English crown. However, after the death of her father, the succession was insecure, and Matilda's life became one long battle to regain, and maintain what was rightfully hers from Stephen, the usurper King. Adeliza of Louvain was the second queen of Henry I, and Matilda's stepmother. Little is known of her historically other than she did not produce the male heir Henry I needed for a safe succession.

This is a meticulously researched historical novel with great insight into both female lead characters. Elizabeth Chadwick has cleverly juxtaposed the lives of these two fascinating women, and brought the medieval world to life in such a believable way, that you feel the tension and experience the struggle, not just for supremacy, but for survival. To be a woman in a medieval world was to be subjected to the whim of men - and only the strongest women made a difference.

Elizabeth Chadwick is a master of medieval storytelling, her sense of history is superb, her characters leap off the page, and enter your life in such a way that the story lives on in your imagination long after the last page.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History comes alive, 22 Jun 2014
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have to admit I have never tried the historical fiction genre before, but am very pleased that I elected to try this book when it was offered on a Kindle daily deal.
I'm by no means a history buff, but knew a little about the central character of this novel (not least from the excellent BBC4 'She-Wolves' series), and was pleased to recognise the few features I was familiar with integrated seamlessly into the novel.
The author clearly takes her research very seriously and I shall probably now be looking to try other works by Elizabeth Chadwick.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Probably better if you haven't read the Penman version, 14 April 2014
By 
Bookwoman (South Wales) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
When it comes to medieval romances of the more intelligent sort Elizabeth Chadwick is one of the best authors around, and all credit to her for taking on the Empress Matilda and the long war she fought with her cousin Stephen for the English throne.
She's not exactly the most accessible or likeable of monarchs, and sorting out these dusty and tangled 12th century events and turning them into an entertaining novel is far from easy. Especially as she must have known that's she's competing with Sharon Penman's monumental When Christ and His Saints Slept (Eleanor of Aquitaine Trilogy 1).
Being such a fan of the Penman version, it's hard for me to write a fair review of this book. They both cover virtually the same ground and it's impossible not to compare the two, especially as Ms Chadwick doesn't do anything innovative with her version (it's a traditional take on the story and she doesn't introduce any fictional characters to give it a new slant, for example). For me, the more in-depth Penman version wins out every time.
But she does give us some interesting and credible portrayals of all the usual suspects - particularly Adeliza of Louvain - and the set pieces, like Matilda's escapes from London and Oxford, are very well done. If your preference isn't for a saga, then this more economical (and maybe less sentimental?) version might suit you better.
It's very readable, just scraping four stars for me, but be warned: if you're a Penman fan, you might end up feeling a bit short-changed by this book. (And possibly a little insulted by that cover: words fail me).
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and easy to read., 2 Nov 2013
By 
S. Hugg (Stamford, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Lady Of The English (Paperback)
I am always a bit nervous about historical novels, wondering how much is invented and so I tend to stick with dry biographies. However, the writer does explain her sources and why she told the story the way she did. I was fairly unfamiliar with this period so found it most enlightening. Also; having lived for much of the time in the places mentioned and walked past ruins of places lived in and visited by the people in the story, who lived so very long ago, this had a particular interest for me. I think I shall be reading lots more books by Elizabeth Chadwick and I am grateful to her for introducing me to a period of history that I was unfamiliar with in such a fashion that I am keen to spend more time learning about it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lady of the English, 27 July 2013
By 
Isis (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Lady Of The English (Paperback)
I do love Elizabeth Chadwick's attention to historical detail and her strength in writing characters, in bringing them to life on the page. Combine this with Matilda, one of my favourite historical personages, and what a combination! Her character is vivid, colourful, leaping off the page, and nuanced. Chadwick has a real skill at writing characters that feel like real, human people, and not flat one-dimensional cardboard cut outs. The descriptions feel rich, and detailed, and yet never dull or too dry. The characters speak with natural voices. The flow of the writing runs smoothly, and doesn't jar. Obviously Chadwick knows her history well, and her characters even better, and that's a crucial element in good historical fiction. When it comes to battle scenes however, I have noticed that the author tends to skirt round them and not show them in as much as detail.

The book is touted as a twin story between two women; Matilda and her stepmother Adeliza, but to be perfectly honest it's Matilda's story. She's the eponymous protagonist, and she drives the plot of historical events. As a lesser historical player, Adeliza, whilst interesting, simply fades into the background standing next to Matilda, and her life is more of a sub-plot here to the wider historical context of the civil war between Matilda and Stephen, rather than an equal story. Regarding the conflict between Matilda and Stephen, Chadwick tells the conflict from Matilda's point of view. Stephen's side is shown through Adeliza, whose second husband William has chosen to support Stephen, but we don't really get inside Stephen's head. Because Lady of the English does not show Stephen's perspective as much, and his motivations are not shown or explored, he comes across as a hard character.

Well-written, epic scope, great characters... I definitely enjoyed it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 29 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Lady Of The English
Lady Of The English by Elizabeth Chadwick (Paperback - 13 Sep 2012)
6.29
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews