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63 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History Brought to Life
Elizabeth Chadwick's superb new novel, The Time of Singing, details the life of Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk during the time of Henry II and his sons. Chadwick's ability to bring history to life is never more apparent than it is in this illustrious depiction of the political and human world of medieval England.

Bigod, who was a companion of William Marshal,...
Published on 4 Oct 2008 by Tamela Mccann

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointing
Having read several of Elizabeth Chadwick's other books I found this slightly disappointing. She is normally a pacy, exciting writer who writes beautifully and convincingly recreates the times of which she writes so that the reader is transported effortlessly into the minds and world of the characters that she portrays. She has achieved this in the present novel but it...
Published on 17 Oct 2010 by T. Denniss


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63 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History Brought to Life, 4 Oct 2008
By 
Tamela Mccann "taminator40" (Nashville, TN USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Time Of Singing (William Marshal) (Hardcover)
Elizabeth Chadwick's superb new novel, The Time of Singing, details the life of Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk during the time of Henry II and his sons. Chadwick's ability to bring history to life is never more apparent than it is in this illustrious depiction of the political and human world of medieval England.

Bigod, who was a companion of William Marshal, the subject of two of Chadwick's earlier novels, is first found as a young man who defies his father's rebellion and must come to terms with the type of man he will be. Bigod must constantly walk a narrow path in order to receive what is rightfully his, and the family drama of fighting for the inheritance follows him throughout his life. Interwoven in Roger's story is that of his wife, Ida, who was once the reluctant mistress of Henry II, and whose love and support provide Bigod with the stability he didn't experience early on in life. Chadwick expertly weaves fact into fiction as we see how Roger and Ida overcome the obstacles of the turbulent times in which they lived.

Once again, Elizabeth Chadwick has given us an outstanding glimpse into the lives of actual people who lived so long ago. The writing is engrossing and the plot is well paced. I could easily envision all the characters and events, and as usual, I was sad to let go of my medieval friends when I closed the last page. Storytelling at its finest! Highly, highly recommended.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner from Chadwick!, 5 Oct 2008
By 
Misfit (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Time Of Singing (William Marshal) (Hardcover)
The Time of Singing retells the story of Roger Bigod, son of Hugh Bigod Earl of Norfolk, who joined the younger Henry in his revolt against his father Henry II. When the revolt fails Hugh loses the Earldom and lands and when he dies there is a bitter dispute over the right to inherit the Earldom between Roger and his step-mother and her two sons. While Roger serves Henry and bides his time to claim his Earldom young Ida de Tosney arrives in court as the King's ward. Henry is smitten and has other plans for Ida and he makes her his mistress and she eventually bears him a son, William. Unhappy with her position as mistress to the king, Ida casts her hopes on Roger and Henry allows them to marry -- although she must leave her son behind.

Henry still withholds the Earldom, but he does restore some of their lands and Ida and Roger build a life and family together and begin rebuild Framlingham Castle to greater heights than it was before. Once Richard I takes the crown at the death of Henry the Earldom is restored to Roger, and the rest of the book recounts their lives as they struggle to keep everything they hold dear as the battle lines are drawn during Richard's absence on crusade and subsequent kidnapping threatens to bankrupt England.

A very enjoyable surprise for me was the appearance of my personal favorite hero, William Marshal - I did not expect him at all, or to feature so prominently - but it appears Bigod and Marshal were contemporaries and friends. Another big surprise was Ida's son William - who readers of fiction set during the reigns of John and Henry III will recognize as William Longespée, and I have to admit many of my favorite moments in the book were of William and his attempts at a relationship with his mother, Roger and their children.

While I enjoyed this book very much, this is not an action packed, page turning, sit on the edge of your seat type of book, but one to sit back and savor like a fine red wine or a box of chocolates (or both!!). As always with Chadwick's books, the way she brings the medieval period to life in such a graceful and effortless way, be it the sights, sounds, smells, food, clothes and battles is just awesome. As quoted on some of her book jackets, the next best thing to time travel. 4.5/5 stars.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars `You are stronger than you think', 11 Oct 2008
By 
Jennifer Cameron-Smith "Expect the Unexpected" (ACT, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Time Of Singing (William Marshal) (Hardcover)
Ms Chadwick's latest novel draws additional historical figures from the shadows of the 12th century and imbues them with vibrant life. Roger Bigod, is the disputed heir to the earldom of Norfolk from approximately 1177. This dispute, which involved Roger's stepmother and stepbrothers, commenced during the reign of Henry II and extended for over a decade before being resolved by Richard I. The dispute brings Roger to court, where he meets Ida de Tosney who is Henry II's young mistress and the mother of his son. Eventually, Ida and Roger marry and while the marriage is a consequence of mutual attraction, it has its costs and burdens.

Ms Chadwick's greatest strength is her ability to combine historical accuracy and characters whose actions can be viewed from a contemporary perspective without any loss of authenticity. This accuracy is important to Ms Chadwick, and it is conveyed to the reader in a way which, while it seems effortless, is a tribute to detailed research. We may not know, with great certainty and at this distance, exactly how Roger and Ida interacted with each other on a personal basis but the novel largely accords with the known facts and provides a fascinating insight into a particularly turbulent time in English history. The medieval code of chivalry carried with it both burdens and costs as well as benefits and privileges.

For me, an added attraction is the links between the Bigods and another of my personal heroes: William Marshal. I was aware of Roger Bigod before reading this novel but not especially interested in him. Now I find that Ms Chadwick has - yet again - introduced me to an historical character about whom I need to know more. Fortunately, I am provided with a select bibliography which gives me a great starting point.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chadwick's best!, 4 Jan 2009
This review is from: The Time Of Singing (William Marshal) (Hardcover)
There are few certainties in life: you will get gray hair, you will eventually turn into your mother and you can't go wrong with an Elizabeth Chadwick book!! I mean this woman is GENIUS at writing medieval novels! You can always expect (and get) brilliance at dialogue, character development and interactions, description of medieval life - the scenes are so beautifully written, just close your eyes and you're there.

There are many literary couples that stay in your mind long after closing the book on their story; Jamie and Claire, Llewelyn and Joanna, and now we can add Roger and Ida. A true love match. Chadwick brings to life one of the most charming love stories from the medieval era as only she can. The best parts of the novel for me were the scenes with Roger, Ida and their family - I don't think I've ever felt so much like a fly on the wall as I did in this novel. The mention of Roger's hats (which EC recently posted about) and Ida's sewing abilities were an extra glimpse into their lives that we as mere readers aren't usually admitted into. I loved that Chadwick included bits about Ida's son, William, growing up at court and the insights into what type of a boy he turned into and then watching William getting acquainted with his mother again was interesting.

There is an added bonus of meeting the studly William Marshall in this novel as well. Eat up ladies!

I highly recommend this novel to um, well, everyone.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Researched Historical Fiction!, 11 Aug 2009
This review is from: The Time Of Singing (William Marshal) (Hardcover)
England, 1173. Times are of rebellion, King Henry II's sons oppose him in his choice of successor and trying to secure their place and lands, decide to move against him, with the help of their mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Despite their efforts the King is victorious, and after imprisoning his wife, he deals out his sons' due punishment, completely crushing their rebellion.

Roger Bigod's relationship with his father, Hugh Bigod, 1st Earl of Norfolk, was never on good terms. They parted ways in 1173 when Roger decided to oppose his father and aid King Henry II against his own sons and wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Hugh Bigod ended up surrendering all his castles to King Henry II, after a terrible defeat, only managing to keep his earldom and surrounding lands, until his departure for Palestine and subsequent death in 1177. Roger's claim to his father's possessions and title was disputed by his greedy stepmother, Gundreda, and her two sons, Hugh Bigod and William Bigod. And this is where our story really begins!

Ida de Tosney was King Henry II's ward and is now his mistress, a position which many women aspire to but was somewhat forced on her. She lives with doubts about her uncertain future, what will become of her when the King chooses a new mistress? Who will want her now after she's been used? When Roger Bigod comes to court to present his case to King Henry II, he immediately catches Ida's eye, and although trying not to get involved with the King's mistress, Roger can't help but notice the lovely Ida. Seizing the opportunity to take possession of more lands and the county's third penny, the King decides not to settle the dispute and have Roger at his mercy and available to carry out his orders. Ida and Roger's relationship grows throughout the years and when it finally seems the King is ready to set them both free, the price may be too high!

The Time of Singing tells us the story of Roger Bigod, a gentle and honourable man, unlike most of his time, determined to get his father's lands back and to care for the woman he loves and their family. Although the book is supposed to center on Roger, we find ourselves spending more time in Ida's company, learning about her thoughts, her fears, her desires, waiting for Roger to return from yet another royal assignation. Most of the facts we learn about him are filtered through Ida's eyes, very rarely do we get to hear his own voice, get to know his strengths and weaknesses, for me he never quite stood out as his own character or became more than just a cardboard picture. Apart from this tiny complaint, I loved my first venture into Elizabeth Chadwick's world, the author manages to enchant us with her story weaving and it's as if we're placed right in the middle of the action. A quality not many authors share!

One of the characters who makes an appearance now and again is William Marshall, Roger Bigod's personal friend and one of the most interesting historical characters I've come across, every time he enters the scene he manages to completely obscure everyone else and has me swooning over him. Can't think of a better way to have me read The Greatest Knight as soon as possible!

If you like well researched historical fiction, a story that grabs you from the start and is never encumbered by too many details or a boring voice, something that has you rooting for the characters even if you know the outcome, you have to read Elizabeth Chadwick, she won't disappoint you when it comes to writing a great story!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another hit for me!, 4 July 2009
The Time of Singing is the story of Roger Bigod. The story opens in the 1170s, when Roger is a young knight. At the court of Henry II, he meets Ida de Tosney, one of Henry's mistresses, who he later marries. Over the years, as Roger takes on more responsibility as justiciar during Richard's reign, Roger and Ida's marriage is tested to the limit. Also added in to the mix is a bitter inheritance dispute between Roger and his half brothers. The novel covers a period of roughly 20 years, up until the death of Richard I in 1199.

Once again, Elizabeth Chadwick hits it out of the park, with a real, vivid story set against the political background of the 12th century, fraught as it is with intrigue and danger. As EC mentions on her Living the History blog, Roger's life closely paralleled that of William Marshal (if you read and enjoyed Chadwick two books about him, you'll be as pleased as I was to see that William plays a medium-sized role in The Time of Singing).

Unlike William, however, not much is known about Roger's life, so Chadwick had the additional challenge of piecing together parts of the story based on what little is known. She succeeds in this tremendously, combining historical fact with a little bit of invention sometimes that fits in with the characters. I really enjoyed reading about Roger and Ida's marriage, for good or for worse. They're the kind of couple you find yourself rooting for, even as they deal with the tough stuff. I always love when novels get you emotionally involved in that way. Chadwick's novels are always well-researched, and I know that I can expect a high level of historical accuracy from her books.

I've sort of developed a crush on Roger. He's always able to deal effectively--and generously--with adversity, as witness his interactions with his half brothers or William Longspee (the latter is an arrogant jerk, but Roger, God bless him, still manages to find something nice to say about him). In all, a fantastic novel with fascinating characters. I can't wait to read EC's next book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointing, 17 Oct 2010
By 
T. Denniss (Norfolk, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Having read several of Elizabeth Chadwick's other books I found this slightly disappointing. She is normally a pacy, exciting writer who writes beautifully and convincingly recreates the times of which she writes so that the reader is transported effortlessly into the minds and world of the characters that she portrays. She has achieved this in the present novel but it lacks the unity and the excitement of the other works I have read. A lot of the time she over-sentimentalizes by dwelling for too long on the feelings of her main characters slowing the pace and spoiling the flow of the narrative. The character delineation is excellent but by there is a marked lack of direction in this book compared to her other novels. Worth reading for its link with the very excellent series that she has written about William Marshall which I found totally unputdownable!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read it if history is your bag - but start at the beginning and enjoy the ride, 2 April 2013
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This review is from: The Time Of Singing (William Marshal) (Hardcover)
Really you have to start at the beginning of the Marshall saga first go and start this journey with William Marshalls father this family were involved with much of our early English History and the storyline is just about as true to the times..... as we can be led to appreciate in our own times.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyable, 1 July 2014
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Fabulous story, well written!
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5.0 out of 5 stars another great read that I couldn't put down, 20 April 2014
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Having read the Marshall books and those about King Richard I couldn't wait to read this one as well. I wasn't disappointed and I'm looking forward to my next E Chadwick read. The biggest decision is "which one next!"
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The Time Of Singing (William Marshal)
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