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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Tough Woman
Bought this book some months ago. Really enjoyed it. A biography on a woman I did not know much about prior to this read. Describes the tough conditions the women of this time lived under. An unfaithful husband who was never "home". A woman who had to rule Normandy alone. Not much love between her sons.
Published on 23 May 2013 by Else Grønbech

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The story of Matilda of Flanders and her husband William the Conqueror: a mixed bag
Hilda Winifred Lewis (1896-1974) was a British writer who wrote several historical novels on Queen Consorts. This one is on the very first Queen Consort: Matilda of Flanders, the consort of William the Conqueror. She was the daughter of count Baldwin V of Flanders, and Adèle, daugther of King Robert II of France. The count of Flanders was a very rich and powerful...
Published on 1 Nov. 2007 by Amelrode


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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The story of Matilda of Flanders and her husband William the Conqueror: a mixed bag, 1 Nov. 2007
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Amelrode (Vilvoorde) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wife to the Bastard (Paperback)
Hilda Winifred Lewis (1896-1974) was a British writer who wrote several historical novels on Queen Consorts. This one is on the very first Queen Consort: Matilda of Flanders, the consort of William the Conqueror. She was the daughter of count Baldwin V of Flanders, and Adèle, daugther of King Robert II of France. The count of Flanders was a very rich and powerful magnate and her link to the French royal family made Matilda one of the rgeat marriage prize of her ages, at equal if not superior to a duek of Normandy, espcially a bastard born one.

Mrs Lewis concentrates on the relationsship of William and Matilda and tells the story from the point of view of Matilda. She exploits the rumour that Matilda had been in love with the English ambassador to Flanders, a Saxon named Brihtric, who declined her advances. In the novel she even has a child by Brihtric. This puts her on an equal footing to William the Bastard and her refusal to marry Whatever the truth of the matter, years later when she was acting as Regent for William in England, she used her authority to confiscate Brihtric's lands and throw him into prison, where he died. The secret kept and partly revealed starts haunting and the relationship collapses more or less. Ambition does hold the couple together and the divisions increases through the the different links with their children.

Lewis constantly repeats the themes and goes on and on these fundamental issues. She simply overdoes it. After a while, this becomes wearying to the reader. Lewis's prose style takes a bit of getting used to. It's sometimes very formal and than quite dramatic, and sadly, it's also devoid of humor. On the plus side, Lewis makes us share Matilda's and William's ambition and frustration All in all it is not a book one dislikes, but one does not particuarly like it either. It is a quite mixed bag.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull, solid, 24 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: Wife to the Bastard (Kindle Edition)
Could have been interesting and it did try in places but it was a really chore to read. I did like the way it tried to give an alternative perspective.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Tough Woman, 23 May 2013
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This review is from: Wife to the Bastard (Paperback)
Bought this book some months ago. Really enjoyed it. A biography on a woman I did not know much about prior to this read. Describes the tough conditions the women of this time lived under. An unfaithful husband who was never "home". A woman who had to rule Normandy alone. Not much love between her sons.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read, 15 Mar. 2014
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A well written and well researched historical novel. The characterisation was believable and had depth. How refreshing to find a real historical novel and not just history rewritten as a romantic story or 'bodice ripper' as happens so often.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good read in a slightly unusual style, 25 Mar. 2015
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John Hopper (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wife to the Bastard (Kindle Edition)
This is a fairly old (1960s) (semi-auto)biographical novel about the life of Matilda of Flanders, wife of William the Conqueror. I wasn't sure at first if I cared for the author's slightly distant literary style of chronicling events, but decided that I did like it after all, and that in fact this is a very well written historical novel. William and Matilda's marriage was by any reasonable Medieval yardstick a very successful one, but cracks appear over their children (a timeless story) and in particular William's perpetual distrust of his oldest son, Robert, to whom he refuses to relinquish any of his power as the latter grows to manhood. This reminded me rather of the very similar generational clash a century later between William's great grandson Henry II and his son Henry, the Young King, though the latter was definitely a less appealing individual than Robert. The author clearly cannot stand William Rufus, who is portrayed in entirely negative terms as a vicious brat. Matilda's thought processes do get a little tiresomely repetitive at times, and the novel is perhaps slightly overlong, but it is well worth a read by anyone interested in historical fiction set in this period of history.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full on read, 6 Nov. 2013
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Really enjoyed it. 1066 from the Norman point of view. Engrossing book. Action, love , hate reflection. Transported into another era.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars wife to the bastard, 1 Dec. 2007
This review is from: Wife to the Bastard (Paperback)
I have been returning to this novel off and on for 30 years and it always gives me something else to think about. The style is not easy, being very formal- but it fits the character. The dark secret has been mostly disproved but does fit some readings of the extant documents so is used here to explain quite a bit that otherwise is unknowable.
All in all a thought provoking read for the reader of serious historical fiction
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5.0 out of 5 stars well written and researched. I really enjoyed it, 31 Dec. 2014
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Expertly woven fact and fiction. I was gripped. I can't wait to get the next one. A very fine writer
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4.0 out of 5 stars Heavy going, 13 Sept. 2014
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Heavy going but interesting if you love the history of England
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The other side of a king, 2 Jun. 2013
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I enjoyed this book but found it heavy going at times. I really enjoyed the story but found some parts dragged out. I would recommend this book to someone how had an interest in history.
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