However, Isolde's elderly husband dies not long after the wedding but that is not the end of her troubles. She successfully defies her brother-in-law, who tries to seize control of the household and claims her rights as a widow, aided by her loyal companion Ela. The following year, Isolde marries Hugh de Audley, the youngest son of James de Audley and Ela Longespé. She believes her circumstances to be much improved but her hopes are dashed. She soon discovers that Hugh is a spoilt, selfish young man and her dreams of a loving marriage founder. Disappointed and despairing, she meets her new brother-in-law, Nicolas - and at last finds a man whom she both trusts and admires. Her emotions threaten to rule her head.
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In Fran Norton's new book, we return to an age when knights rode into tournaments and wars bedecked in colourful plumes on prancing, powerful destriers, and ladies in magnificent gowns fought their own, more subtle, battles. We follow Isolde’s eventful life, through the trials and tribulations of marriage and motherhood, and watch as her husband claims his place as a loyal and respected member of the royal court through his valiant actions in Scotland. Finally we witness how, for the sake of her children, Isolde buries her pride when she discovers her husband’s infidelity.
Books by Fran Norton...
The Twisted Legacy of Maud de Braose
Isolde, Lady de Audley: The Mortimer Myth
The Secret, The Sword and the Seal
Dr Alison Harrop
Fran Norton knows her period intimately, so we are in safe hands here.
Isolde is a bastard child who is nonetheless brought up by Lady Maud Mortimer, the subject of Ms Norton’s (stand-alone) earlier book: The Twisted Legacy of Maud de Braose. She has inherited the strength and quick temper of her baronial father and consequently has lessons to learn to master herself. She might have become unlikeable as a result, but we are skilfully led to understand her struggles. Like most mediaeval gentlewomen, she must accept loveless marriages but still manages to assert herself to survive.
The book is set against a background of war and authentic Scottish politics but never loses sight of its human aspect and strong central character. An enjoyable read with the hint of another tale to come as Eve is introduced in its final chapters. So I suspect we may look forward to a third book with keen anticipation!