Author: Elizabeth Chadwick
Published: 2011 by Sourcebooks Landmark
Holding her dead husband’s imperial crown, Matilda felt the cold pressure of gemstones and hard gold against her fingertips and palms. The death of the emperor of Germany and Matilda’s husband marks the beginning of her journey and hardships. On her return to England, King Henry begins to make arrangements to make her his heir leading to much opposition. After her father’s death, Stephen took the throne instead, causing Matilda to make plans to retake the throne that was rightly hers. Throughout her quest, she went through ups and downs, fell in love and went through much sadness. Alongside her story, her stepmother, Adeliza’s story was also set into motion.
How I felt:
I haven’t always been fond of history. in fact, I’ve always found it a little boring and hard to focus on. Even some of the historical fiction that I’ve read hasn’t been that interesting either. So, I was skeptical when I picked up this book. I have never been even more wrong. Elizabeth Chadwick breathed life into all the historical characters, making them more human, not what you read about in history textbooks. This was something different; this was more deeper than that. Elizabeth Chadwick gave emotions and thoughts that made the characters more lively. The passion that brewed behind the hearts of Matilda and Brian was clearly felt and made my heart beat a little faster every time they were together.
I could clearly feel the burden set on Matilda’s shoulders the moment King Henry set her as one of his many chess pieces and also as his heir. On the one hand, she loved the regal and royal responsibility given to her but at the same time, it also meant that she had to give up the man she loved and steel herself for what lay ahead. When the throne of England was seized by Stephen, the burdens grew even heavier with the knowledge that she had to secure the throne for her son if not for herself. She had to push herself to her very limits, not knowing who to trust and having be brave and not being seen as womanly or weak by the people around her. She even had to deny her feelings for Brian FitzCount. Nearing the end of the story, Matilda almost reached her limit when her half-brother, Robert died. With no one to man her soldiers and to depend on, she decided to return to Normandy to wait to a sooner time until her eldest son would be able to claim the throne. Her tenacity and her pride and her weakness and passion makes her someone to be admire and respect.
At the same time Adeliza’s life was also thrown into jeopardy after King Henry’s death but hers was on a happier note after she married Will D’Albini and gave birth to six children while she thought she was barren before. I was happy to see her happy and contented which was what she really deserved, given her kind and loving nature. But what was also interesting was her loyalty to Henry even after his death. She remained convinced that the throne would return to Matilda and her son eventually. Will’s love and devotion to Adeliza was heart wrenching especially when she grew weak after her sixth childbirth. The pain and sorrow of separation bled out of the pages as Adeliza prepared to leave her beloved husband and children.
I wanted to finish the Lady of the English in one sitting but at the same time, I wanted to stretch it as long as I can. Luckily my work managed to draw my attention away from the amazing book and its story but not for long. I do not regret at all getting this book. It wasn’t just reading the book; it was like reliving the medieval past and seeing the characters as living and breathing humans. Now I aim to get the rest of the books from Elizabeth Chadwick so that I can enjoy the other stories too.