Isabel of Northfield is bound to a feudal lord, but family stories about yeomen in her bloodline fan the flames of dissatisfaction in her, causing her to dream about freedom
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The second installment in Anand's Bridges Over Time series (launched last year with The Proud Villains), which does Medieval English history from the points of view of its lowliest--a passel of serfs in East Anglia, who, here especially, look at a person as though they ``wanted to rob you, or eat you.'' That's what can be seen in the eyes of Isabel of Northfield, wife of Alfred Plowman as the story commences. She's inherited the medallion with the strange device from book one, which symbolizes that her family was formerly much more highfalutin. Thus, once Alfred dies, Isabel will stop at almost nothing to better her condition in life--implicating the Abbess of Redesmarch for witchcraft, then offering herself to a widowed freeman, Herbert Grosney of Normansland, who enjoys her for several years before marrying a woman of his own class. Isabel meets a mean end, then, though the story goes on to contemplate the fortunes of yet another line of the family, Nicola and Thomas Woodcarver. These two make hay during the devastation of the plague, looting their master's house and running off to Essex, where they set themselves up as freemen at an abandoned farm. Heirs are a problem, however, especially when their grandson heads off to London with Wat Tyler, leader of the failed Peasant Revolt of 1381. Still, never doubt that this family will go on. As usual, Anand stages history nicely, though her books seldom compel as fiction. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
The family of English serfs whose saga began in The Proud Villeins remains in bondage as Anand continues the series into the latter part of the 13th century. In the village of Rushley, Isabel of Northfield, young wife of Alfred Plowman, envies her beautiful cousin Rohese, who marries a freeman. When Alfred dies in an accident, Isabel seeks to raise her station by entering a nearby abbey, illegally offering as dowry the land to which she is tied. She is accepted for the land, which the venal abbess wrests from its rightful owner, but is turned into a kitchen drudge. An attempt at revenge fails, as does her bid for happiness through a love affair with a freeman. In her old age, she passes on to young kinswoman Nicola a talisman of their family's free ancestor, who was unjustly made a serf before the time of William the Conqueror. The unhappily wed Nicola and her brutal but talented craftsman husband, Thomas Woodcarver, escape bondage through deceit and build the possibility of a better future for their descendants. With a thoroughgoing knowledge of medieval life and customs, Anand weaves a moving tale of courageous men and women who, though brutalized by their surroundings, nurture the spark of hope.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Headline Book Publishing, 1992. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110747237840
Book Description Headline Book Publishing, 1992. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0747237840