2 out of 4 stars
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Robert, the nineteen-year-old duke of Normandy, comes across the most beautiful woman he had ever met while riding. Herleva enamors him. In the fullness of time, he makes her his mistress at the age of sixteen. The church and most of the nobles oppose their union, as she is not of the nobility. When, therefore, Herleva bears her first son William, Robert has to think about the illegitimate boy’s future. The opposition is so strong that Duke Robert I is forced to send his uncle, Archbishop Robert of Rouen, to exile. The resistance grows, though. Herleva advises the duke to reconcile with his uncle and the church, but Robert quests after establishing firm control over Normandy.
How long does it take before Robert pays attention to his mistress’ advice? What will become of Herleva and her son? Who remains standing by their side when money corrupts others?
A woman of power and Influence: Herleva de Falaise; from commoner to mother of a king is a historical fiction book. The author, Michael Fairley, pens down an exhilarating story of a little-known, powerful woman. It is the story of the daughter of a commoner who becomes the Norman duke’s mistress and eventually influences the history of both France and England immensely. In this book, Michael brings Herleva’s story and legacy to life, demonstrating her relevance.
The depth of Herleva’s insight was remarkable. From the start, her knowledge and skills distinguish her. She successfully sails through turbulent times, ensuring her family remains intact. Uncertainty hangs heavy in the air in the duchy of Normandy during the eleventh century. The author does not dwell on the details, but one cannot fail to feel the impact of attempted assassinations and general unrest throughout. A fragile glass hanging by a thin thread, it seems, holds peace. As a result, I was afraid about William’s safety when tough times came calling but remained confident his mother would protect him.
I liked the brevity of the book. However, it seems this becomes one of its downsides. There were few instances of vivid descriptions and, thus, making the narration plain. Infrequently, the story reads more of reported nonfiction than a direct narration. The events that lacked adequate details to capture the reader's attention and emotions bring a feeling akin to that of a distant observer, possessing zero interest in an event. Equally, I discovered several errors in the book, which means the editing was sloppy.
I rate the book two out of four stars due to the issues I stated in the preceding paragraph. Another round of editing will attract a higher rating. Ardent fans of historical fiction, especially those eager to learn more about Herleva de Falaise, will enjoy poring over the book.
A woman of power and influence
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