June 2023
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Review: The Queen's Gambit, Elizabeth Fremantle

Queen's GambitWhen her second husband dies of cancer, Katherine Parr returns to court to attend Lady Mary, Henry VIII’s elder daughter. Though she’s quickly enchanted by her brother’s friend Thomas Seymour, Katherine catches the King’s eye unintentionally and before she knows it, she’s Queen of England, with her every word, step and expression monitored intensely by her husband and the court. Katherine’s life is regularly at risk. One of her few allies is her stepdaughter’s friend, Dorothy Fowndon. Dot is a lowborn girl brought into service for Katherine’s relatively ordinary life, who remains close to the Queen and is raised up by faithful service to be a gentlewoman. But an existence so close to Henry VIII is dangerous, as his previous wives showed, and Katherine and Dot must always be on their best behaviour or risk losing their heads to his whims.

I’ve always known Katherine Parr as the wife that finally survived Henry VIII, probably like most people who have even a remote interest in history. I remembered the framework of her life simply because I’ve been interested in Tudor history for years; I knew who she married and how she died, and that she was close at one point to Elizabeth, not yet too close to the throne at that point. But I couldn’t have imagined what a complex and touching story that an author like Fremantle could weave out of that framework. This is a fantastic book and one that easily transported me to the Tudor history I remember loving before the volume of books became overwhelming.

It was easy for me to feel as though I understood how difficult Katherine’s situation was. No one could escape the king, certainly not by this point; he’s already beheaded two wives for sins which may well have been fabricated and his mercurial moods mean that Katherine could easily be next. She can’t refuse him, even though her head is completely turned by Thomas Seymour. And that means she must endure marriage to him, at this point a much older, diseased, immense man who has been used to getting his own way for decades. And to make matters worse she’s never carried a baby to term. As such it’s a matter of dread that she’ll almost certainly never conceive a backup prince for the king. Eventually that might be her downfall, and there is absolutely nothing she can do to prevent it. I felt very strongly for her.

One aspect that helped this book rise above a lot of the historical fiction I’ve read in the past few years was the secondary story of Dot. Though this part was probably ahistorical, as acknowledged by the author, Dot gave a wonderful second opinion of Katherine and had her own part to play as she grew up at court. It’s a classic outsider perspective that provides value to the main narrative, but I also appreciated her sweet romance (and other sidetracks), simpler by nature than the queen’s but still complex and challenging in its own way. While other books try to provide this perspective, Fremantle succeeded hugely and I became invested in the stories of both women.

Even if you think you’re sick of Tudor historical fiction, I recommend you give Queen’s Gambit a try. It was a welcome breath of fresh air for me, beautifully written and imagined, with an engaging story that allowed me to step right into history. Highly recommended.

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I received this book for review as part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour. Find the rest of the tour schedule here.

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Review: A Dangerous Inheritance, Alison Weir

a dangerous inheritanceFor Lady Katherine Grey, sister of Lady Jane Grey, Edward VI’s chosen heir, the Wars of the Roses lie in the past. Already, tales of Richard III are growing in exaggeration as the Tudor monarchs do their best to establish their rightful rule. For Katherine Plantagenet, illegitimate daughter of Richard III, the Wars of the Roses control her life, and she watches as her beloved father’s reputation sinks and her royal cousins vanish in real time. What ties these two women together is their curiosity and somehow urgent need to know what happened to the two little princes, as their individual dramas and struggles control their lives in the present.

I was sure I’d reviewed another of Alison Weir’s novels at one point or another, but I can’t find any that I’ve actually posted. Never mind – I’ve reviewed a number of her non-fiction books and I do tend to like them. I often find her fiction dry, though, and unfortunately A Dangerous Inheritance wasn’t an exception to that. I didn’t have any expectations going in, so I don’t think it’s down to a famous name. I think it was a combination of factors.

First, though, what I liked about the book. I love the way Weir throws in many details about the period. Right away I spotted that a jewel of Kate’s was clearly modelled after the Middleham Jewel. She uses real letters, real sources, and includes descriptions that simply feel spot on. I loved these details and knowing that Weir had researched this period to a degree where she could recreate what happened effectively.

The book also opens dramatically, setting up both Kate and Katherine’s stories in a way that immediately caught my attention. I was in particular interested in Katherine, because while I knew what happened to Jane, I couldn’t remember what happened to her sisters, and definitely didn’t predict Katherine’s life.

Unfortunately, after that, I felt that the book dragged on. Towards the middle, we reach a point where the women, though still teenagers, are both fixated and in love with men that they simply cannot have for different reasons. They seemed to spend an eternity pining for their respective lovers, to the degree that even while quite a bit else was happening, they languished over this for ages. I hardly felt like these wronged lovers really deserved much emotional attachment, and I ended up just wanting to know what happened to them at the end. Their relationships feel contrived, not genuine, and I think this held the book back.

Secondly, towards the end, when Katherine is putting together the story of the princes in the Tower, I quite frankly just got bored. She spends time reading all the big names and chronicles to see what happened, and then goes through a lengthy pages-long process justifying why ultimately she believes Thomas More and has come to the same conclusions as Weir herself. In non-fiction – fine, this is exactly what I want to read. In fiction – not so much. I wasn’t convinced by Katherine’s arguments, and as I actually haven’t read Weir’s own non-fiction book on the Wars of the Roses, I can’t comment on her views either.

Bizarrely, though the novel follows that extremely logical approach to determining what happened to the princes, it contains some oddly-placed supernatural elements, generally when one woman is in a place where something significant happened to the other. As I didn’t really get the connection between them anyway, these segments felt out of place. The connection seemed contrived to me; all the women had in common was their names and the fact that they were interested in the princes. Their positions were both close to the throne, but Kate would never be a threat to her father’s kingship, while Katherine’s life was dominated by the fact that she was very few steps from the throne at all times and was a potential magnet for discontented European and English powers.

Ultimately, I found A Dangerous Inheritance disappointing. I think I’ll stick to Weir’s non-fiction in the future.

All external links are affiliate links. I received this book for free for review.


Review: The Wild Girl, Kate Forsyth

The Wild GirlDortchen Wild falls in love with Wilhelm Grimm, the handsome older brother of her best friend, the moment she meets him – but she’s only twelve years old. As she grows, her love only deepens, and soon Wilhelm returns her interest, particularly when he hears about the folk tales that she’s learned from Old Marie, the Wild family’s nurse. Wilhelm and his older brother Jakob have been collecting old German folk tales with the hope of eventually getting them published and making their fortune. Wilhelm and Dortchen begin meeting in secret, as Dortchen’s forbidding father will not hear of the pair associating, and fall in love.

This was an incredible book. It sounded interesting to start with – who doesn’t want to read fiction about the love life of one of the Brothers Grimm? – and completely lived up to that promise. I loved Dortchen and I found her story completely compelling. She starts out as a spirited young girl, the “wild girl” of the book’s title, who loves the forest and spending time with her friend and adores Wilhelm beyond reason. As she grows older, her father’s unwillingness to let her go, even as her sisters marry, and some events I won’t spoil start to shrink her spirit. She ends up with ridiculously difficult hardships to surmount, with some passages so agonizing that I actually had to look on Wikipedia to find out what was going to happen in Dortchen’s life because I couldn’t bear the suspense.

Life isn’t easy for anyone in this period. Living in the Holy Roman Empire during the Napoleonic wars, the town of Cassel is taken again and again as Napoleon and then the Russians battle for control. Times are hard, food is scarce, and war seems never-ending, sometimes right on the family’s front steps. Every young man is at risk of going to war. Almost every family lives on the edge.

On a personal level, the book handles some very tough issues, like what happens between Dortchen and her father. This part of the book is entirely speculation on the author’s behalf, which she admits; it’s known that Dortchen and Wilhelm fell in love at a certain point but then spent unexplained years without getting married. The author attempts to imagine what might have happened to cause this huge gap, and this certainly works within the context of the story. It also provides an insight into the very difficult life of a girl who is abused in this way, systematically and repeatedly, and how damaging that might be to her image of herself, even when the abuse has theoretically ended. It was heart-breaking and utterly agonizing to read, which is an indication I think that the author has done her job correctly.

In the midst of this, though, is a sweet, wonderful, long-lasting romance between Wilhelm and Dortchen. It isn’t always easy, and they spend months apart or not speaking at times, but neither can let go of the other. And the ending was certainly enough to bring me to tears, after reading about so much hardship. The fairy tales and the romance give this book an edge out of the difficulties that torment the people within it, and ultimately make it a stand-out read.

Highly recommended.

I received and read this book as part of a book tour organized by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. You can check out the remaining tour stops here.

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Review: Madame Serpent, Jean Plaidy

madame serpentI have a confession: I’ve never actually been very fond of Jean Plaidy’s books. They’ve always seemed very popular to me with other historical fiction bloggers, but I haven’t actually reviewed any of them here. I read a couple of her Tudor books way back before I started blogging, so unfortunately I remember very little other than the fact that they were uninspiring. I was completely in love with historical fiction seven years ago, particularly the Tudors, so this was a huge disappointment. Then a few months ago I got the  re-releases of her Catherine de Medici trilogy for review. They sat for those few months, as they were unsolicited and I wasn’t sure I’d like them, but I brought them over to the UK with me because they were light and I really should beef up my historical fiction reading again.

Imagine my surprise when I cracked open Madame Serpent and found myself enjoying it – a lot! Catherine is very young in this book and I loved watching her turn into her more famous, scheming incarnation over the course of this novel. Starting in Italy, Catherine endures the difficulties of Florentine instability at a young age; her uncle, the Pope, decides that the Medici family is destined for further greatness and arranges her marriage to one of the French King Francis’s sons, Henry. Henry isn’t the heir, but for an essentially merchant family marrying into the greatest monarchy of the time, this is a huge step. Catherine’s feelings are never a consideration, of course; her love for her cousin and her country is dismissed. Catherine’s character is tested even further when she discovers that the heart of her young husband has already been captured by a much older woman, Diane de Poitiers, and while she falls passionately in love with him, she must watch him long for another woman.

Though the novel flips around between the perspective of several different characters, Catherine is very obviously the primary focus from the start; everyone else’s narrative simply exists to flesh out the space around hers. This book is a lot of set-up, as it’s the first in an entire trilogy about Catherine, covering her life from her childhood up to the birth of her youngest child. I find that most historical fiction focused on women slows down drastically when the main character starts having babies, mostly because they spend a lot of time having children and then recovering from having children, and there is a little bit of that here, but nothing particularly drastic. In addition, the author needs to set up Catherine’s relationships with her children, as I have a feeling they’ll be adding considerably to her later years.

Primarily, what this book shows is that, when Catherine is dismissed as a weak woman whose only function is to bear heirs to the French throne, when her family and her husband neglect her, and when she reaches the very end of her rope, she’s able to find the strength inside to subvert all expectations and become very powerful indeed. I have the feeling I will enjoy the rest of this trilogy greatly, and I’m very glad to have the next two books already waiting on the shelves.

I received this book for free for review. All external book links are affiliate links.


Review: Elisha Barber, E. C. Ambrose

elisha barberElisha Barber lives in a fourteenth century England with witches and mages, unlike our own world, and war, poverty, and suffering, very much like it. He does all he can with his two hands, both acting as a barber, cutting and shaving men and women alike, and as a surgeon, plying the medical trade to save lives. But when he fails to save the life of his brother’s child, or indeed his brother himself, due to a feud that he initiated, Elisha can hardly live with his sins, and his capture by the king’s men is almost a mercy. Sent to practice his trade on wounded battlefield soldiers, Elisha learns to practice his true gift in the face of opposition thrown at him from every possible angle.

This book starts off rocky. It’s hard to explain why; I think it just took a little while for the book to find its purpose and its actual story. The first few chapters are almost like a prologue, an explanation as to why Elisha gets where he’s going, and as such don’t really feel like they fit the story as well as they might. Once I’d persevered past that point, though, I could see why it was chosen to go first, because the rest of the story can’t happen without it. It’s worth continuing, in any case, if you do find yourself somewhat stuck there, as what comes after is a lot better than the beginning.

Mainly, this is because we see Elisha in his element, and start to actually learn more about the world that he lives in. His skills as a medical practitioner start to come through, and we can admire the fact that he’s saving men’s lives and fighting in the face of “modern” medicine. Of course, some medieval medicine did more harm than good, while some actually was perfectly sufficient, and Elisha experiences both kinds, although more of the former than the latter.

In terms of characterization, Elisha is the only character that we actually come to know particularly well; the book is experienced exclusively through his perspective, although it’s narrated in third person. Everyone else seems to be the mirrors through which he discovers himself and what he can actually do. Most of the characters are either good or bad, aside from a couple whose intervention changes his life at various times. A lot of the characters are somewhat stereotypical peasants with hearts of gold, while the truly “bad” characters are nobility. But there is enough variation amongst the nobility to avoid falling into any traps, and in any case, Elisha is the star of the show, with the book a bit too short for us to get to know anyone else particularly well.

Finally, the magic system. Mages in this book have a few skills; they can talk to one another through various mediums and they can transform similar objects into other objects. They also seem able to feel other people’s emotions by attuning themselves to the environment and other people, but I felt like that particular skill wasn’t as well defined. There are other abilities too, but they were also not as clearly defined, leaving me to wonder what else the author might come up with!

In all, Elisha Barber was a very solid, ultimately enjoyable read – a great choice for someone who enjoys reading about medieval England and fantasy rolled up into one. I’ll definitely keep my eyes open for the next in the series.

All external book links are affiliate links. I received this book for free for review.


Review: Paris, Edward Rutherfurd

parisSubtitled “the epic novel of the city of lights”, Paris follows four families throughout the history of Paris. The De Cygne family are nobility, though their status gradually erodes over the course of history, while the Le Sourds are a range of commoners. The other two families are bourgeois and workers, representing the different sectors of French society. Throughout the novel their relationships and statuses change with history right up until the 1960’s.

Unlike the other novels I’ve read by Rutherfurd, Paris focuses on a particular segment of history more so than the others, following a few members of the families more closely from 1875. The books I’d read earlier – Sarum, Russka and London – had started in the past and moved up to the present, more or less.

I’m not really sure I liked the change, to be honest. I can kind of see why it was done, perhaps because the late nineteenth century and onwards is a bit better known, and because it allows Rutherfurd to focus more closely on specific characters for once, but those reasons are exactly why it doesn’t work. I am much more interested in earlier history and Paris certainly doesn’t lack for a fascinating past; what happened to the history before the 13th century? Just because Paris wasn’t properly the capital of a France like the modern one we know until Philip Augustus doesn’t mean that its history, even fictional history, isn’t worth writing.

Secondly, Rutherfurd really doesn’t excel at creating believable characters or writing deeply enough to make the story of them compelling. He’s much more skilled when it comes to the epic big events, creating incidental characters whose only purpose really is to live through the cities’ big moments. When half of the book is devoted to looking more closely at a few characters, this approach no longer works. I rolled my eyes at a lot of the writing here; characters’ judgement of each other is incredibly shallow and unrealistic, for one thing, and things are always told and not shown. I really did not enjoy returning to the more modern strand because I had no interest in who Marie was actually going to marry or whether Luc was going to get his revenge on Louise. I felt that his previous books worked a lot better in this respect; I wanted more historical fiction, less little social dramas that didn’t reflect anything actually about Paris.

It’s not all bad; the chapter that had the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre was actually particularly good because it gave the events a really human element through two children that suffer from the events, and reminded me of why I actually wanted to read the book in the first place. Unfortunately, most of it didn’t live up to my expectations, making this one of the most disappointing books I’ve read yet this year.

I received this book for free for review. All external book links are affiliate links.


Review: She Rises, Kate Worsley

she risesLouise Fletcher is a dairymaid in 1790, and a reasonably content one at that; she has a purpose in life, and a purpose that she’s actually good at. Then the hand of fate steps in and she finds herself a lady’s maid to a Captain’s daughter, Rebecca Handley, soon to be engaged to a gentleman and move to London. But first, Harwich, a port on the Thames where all manner of folk wind up, and where her brother vanished a few years ago, called to the sea like all Fletchers. Alongside Louise is Luke, a boy pressed into service in His Majesty’s fleet, at first miserable but who gains his sea legs and his skills as time goes on. These two stories intertwine in surprising ways as the novel goes on.

Reviewing this book without giving the story away is going to be a real challenge, but I’ll give it a shot. It’s definitely one of those books that you should let take you without much prior knowledge from the story. I didn’t expect what was coming, especially in the second half of the book.

Unfortunately, the book did fall prey to the fact that I just don’t really like this period in history and I like stories set on ships even less, if that’s possible. The beginning and end of the book felt too long; the middle really picked up and became excellent but sank back after the main revelation. I actually liked what the author did with the plot and the two main characters. It added a different spin on the story and gave it a new dimension of meaning. If you read the book, you’ll understand – it put me into a perspective that I had never experienced before and I thought it was worth reading for that alone. The plot twist is very reminiscent of Sarah Waters, as many other reviewers have said, and it’s not a surprise that Waters was Worsley’s mentor during her degree.

Worsley is also an exceptional writer, and the prose throughout the book shows this brilliantly. The settings are evocative, the characters’ feelings leap out from the page, and the narrators are distinct. Louise’s sections are told to a certain “you” which doesn’t take long to discern, while Luke’s are simply told from his perspective. It feels a very literary novel, carefully crafted, meticulously written, but unfortunately in this case lacking the spark that I needed to fall in love with it. This is very much a like but not love book.

Still, particularly if you enjoy Sarah Waters, you may find that She Rises is worth your while. I know I’d be keen to read more by Kate Worsley in the future.

All external book links are affiliate links. I received this book for free for review.


Review: The Doctor and the Diva, Adrienne McDonnell

the doctor and the divaErika von Kessler is a diva with big dreams; though she’s well into her twenties and married, she secretly longs to leave her husband and travel to Italy where she might become the star she believes she is destined to be. Her businessman husband Peter’s fervent desire to have a child, and her seeming inability to conceive, have only caused her to long even more to leave him. Fertility doctor after fertility doctor have failed to help her conceive, until the couple go to Doctor Ravell, a Boston specialist who has reportedly worked miracles in an age before artificial insemination was regularly practiced. Ravell is immediately captivated by Erika and, eventually, she by him, until their lives and ambitions become woven together.

This was not a book that sucked me in right away. In fact, I didn’t actually like the characters. Perhaps realistically, they are all very selfish in their own ways, very human and particularly flawed, but that certainly makes them hard to understand. Erika’s struggle for a child dominates the beginning of the book; it infuriated me, I must admit, when her husband refused having his sperm sample analyzed and then Ravell found out that the “fault” lay with him, not her – I find this difficult to articulate but I intensely despised him after his arrogance allowed him to go on blaming his wife for something that had nothing to do with her, when in reality it was a burden they could have borne together.

In some ways, despite the fact that I didn’t like her much, it’s easy to understand Erika’s struggle, which was particularly indicative of the early twentieth century. Her ambitions are greater than the life she has, and she is forced to contain her talent in a world which expects her to be happy as a wife and mother. Although some women are, she isn’t made for that role, and because she doesn’t fit the mold, she has to do something extreme to achieve her own dreams. Still, she doesn’t do so without any emotion, and her eventual choice is one that does in fact devastate her. I may not have appreciated the “romance” within this book much, but I can’t fault McDonnell’s characterization of these characters.

Yes, the “romance”. I really did not feel that much about any connection between Erika and Ravell. I did not like a huge number of their actions and I honestly didn’t get where the romance came from. Ravell has a complicated relationship with his gynecological patients, given he’s also having an affair with another one when the book opens, and there is some insight in how they could feel some level of intimacy towards one another. But … I just wasn’t convinced.

Anyway, the book is actually quite well written and cleverly structured, with different phases of Erika’s life mapped out with different sections of the novel, of which there are six in total. Some of the scenes are beautifully written, and I found those in Trinidad, in the jungle, to be particularly appealing, almost as though I could feel the sand and the breeze and the warm nights. I think McDonnell could be a phenomenal writer, and it’s impressive that this is her first book – it’s just a shame I didn’t relate more to the characters in this very character-driven novel.

I received this book for free for review.


Review: Fever, Mary Beth Keane

fever mary beth keaneMary Mallon is an Irish immigrant simply doing her best to get by in a difficult world. At the turn of the twentieth century, few jobs are open to older women, but Mary has found her calling as a cook. By the time she hits her fifth decade, Mary has cooked for some of Manhattan’s most prominent families. But sickness follows her everywhere she goes, though she barely realizes it; after cooking for a few weeks, the family is inevitably hit by an illness that kills one or more of them. Mary never puts together the pieces, but others do, and soon she’s accused of spreading typhoid around New York and killing two dozen people.

Like many people, I’d heard of “Typhoid Mary” before; Mary Mallon was the case which helped doctors realize that seemingly healthy people could be carriers of illnesses. Imprisoned for a large chunk of her life to prevent her from spreading typhoid, Mary’s case spawned the discovery of numerous other healthy carriers and spurred us towards hygiene controls that prevent diseases spreading in quite the same way. But I’d never really thought about Mary as a person before, or what it must have felt like to realize that you’d been spreading illness when you really just wanted to make a living and cooking delicious food.

That’s the dilemma that faces Keane’s fictional version of Mary. While she’s convinced – at first – that she could never be the cause of the harm that has befallen these families, that little niggling doubt enters her mind. But that doubt isn’t enough for her to give up her livelihood, and that’s what Mary Mallon ends up imprisoned when others with her condition are allowed to go free, just not to spread their illnesses. What Keane does is give us a woman who is surprisingly convincing in her decisions, even when they’re bad. We can see how she fell into getting in trouble, how the doubts preyed on her mind but she refused to believe them, and even why she kept on working and making people sick.

When I first picked up this book, I was a little bit perplexed; very shortly after the beginning of the book, Mary is imprisoned and caught for her “crimes”, and goes fighting all the way. It seemed as though there was no real lead-up and no background, but what actually happens is that the background comes later. We understand her past in the context of her future, which was a great way to actually structure the book for those who might not know who “Typhoid Mary” was. It gives us context and only later do we see how she actually became a cook and fought for that job, understanding the background of the story once we get an idea of where it’s going. Towards the end of the book, chronological events fall back into order, and thus we finish it with a full sense of who Mary is.

I really enjoyed this book; it put a catch phrase and person on the fringes of my knowledge into full perspective and delivered a great story at the same time. I’d definitely recommend Fever to those interested in historical fiction.

All external book links are affiliate links. I received this book for free for review.


Revew: Four Sisters, All Queens, Sherry Jones

four sisters all queensThe count and countess of Provence had four daughters. A normal medieval family might have been disappointed that they didn’t have any sons, but not this one, because not only can these girls inherit, they can also be manuevered into place to become queens of countries across Europe. Marguerite is first, sent away to marry the French king, where she finds herself dominated by her mother-in-law and unable to exercise her own intellect. Then Eleanore is escorted to cold and rainy England to marry the “old” English king Henry III. Beatrice and Sanchia don’t gain their status as queen until well after marriage, but each have a husband chosen to benefit the family. Throughout their lives, the sisters work together and sometimes against one another, whether or not they choose to obey the family motto, “Family comes first”.

For me, this book got off to an excellent start. I liked the relationship between the sisters as they were young, and the different ways that each sister adapts to her new life as a married woman. Because of the difference in ages, the marriages are staggered, so for a good portion of the first half of the book events are new and fresh. Each sister grows up and adapts to her marriage and husband differently, so that we get a great feel for each of their personalities and their struggles. It’s also nice to read something which focuses so clearly on the relationships between powerful siblings in a historical context and how ambition can put a huge wrench in the best of intentions.

Unfortunately, after the sisters were all married and settled, as often happens, the book started to lag. I can never really blame the author in these situations because, quite frankly, most women’s lives in this period, even those of queens, had the same cycle of pregnancy and birth which (for me at least) just doesn’t make for that exciting a story. In general, a queen gets pregnant, has a baby, and then hands the baby off to someone else. Occasionally one of them is separated from and then longs for her children, and Marguerite in particular has a dramatic time going off on Crusade for years and saving her incompetent husband, but I think the whole book lost a little bit and I struggled to get back to it. Plus, because there are four sisters, there are a number of scenes where the sisters get together and fight about various things, all of them being stubborn and none giving any ground. Beatrice is the main culprit here, as she spends most of the book longing for her sisters’ love and trying to win it and then coming up against a wall. It felt repetitive, even though there were still things going on in the wider plot.

I also think the book suffered because Eleanore and Marguerite were the more interesting queens – Sanchia and Beatrice married younger brothers who took crowns elsewhere and it is fairly clear that they hadn’t done much which was significant or left a huge historical record. The author’s hands are tied in these cases, of course.

Perhaps my expectations were too high, but Four Sisters, All Queens left me a bit cold after a promising start. Still a good prospect for someone who is looking for a book about powerful women and the relationships between them in medieval Europe.

I received this book for free for review.