Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Daughters of The Grail by Elizabeth Chadwick

Review by Maryom

"Thirteenth century France. Bridget has grown up mastering the mystical gifts of her ancestor, Mary Magdalene, whose unbroken female lineage has kept a legacy of wisdom alive for a thousand years. But the all-powerful Catholic Church has sworn to destroy Bridget for using her healing talents and supernatural abilities.
Bridget's duty to continue the bloodline leads her into the arms of Raoul de Montvallant - a Catholic. But when the Church's savage religious intolerance causes Raoul to turn rebel, a terrible vengeance is exacted by Simon de Montfort, the unstoppable Catholic leader ..."

That's the back-of-the-book blurb but I feel the story of Raoul and his young wife Claire deserves more of a mention. Looking forward to a pleasant, peaceful life their expectations are shattered when the south of France is effectively invaded by northerners who've signed up for the Pope's crusade against the Cathars. Their differing responses to the invasion of their lands pushes their marriage to breaking point. He takes up arms and fiercely opposes the French, she turns her back on all violence from whatever source and finds consolation and strength in the peaceful non-resistance of the Cathar beliefs.
I discovered this book through someone's recommendation while I was reading Labyrinth by Kate Mosse  and Troubadour by Mary Hoffman both set in the same time-frame of The Albigensian crusade. While Daughters of the Grail definitely falls into the 'romantic fiction' category - with quite a few 'bodice-ripping' moments - it's also a moving look at the devastation that war brings - at personal and wider levels.
While not within my normal reading genres, Daughters of the Grail was an enjoyable novel that captured the happenings and atmosphere of the time really well without over-crowding the story-line with dry facts. Definitely one for the historical romance fans out there!

Maryom's Review - 4 stars
Publisher - Sphere 
Genre - Adult Historical Romance

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