The latest historical from Cambridge classicist Bradshaw (The Wrong Reflection, 2000, etc.) takes us into the courts of medieval France during the time of the Crusades. The heroine is one Marie Penthièvre of Chalandrey, a young novice living in a Norman convent. Marie’s peaceful life is interrupted by the news that her brother has been killed in the Crusades. This is double tragedy, for it means that Marie is now the ward of the Duke of Normandy, her father’s overlord, and that she must leave the convent to take up residence at the ducal court in Rennes. Marie has to obey, but she is determined nevertheless not to marry against her will. At Rennes, however, she falls in love with Tiarnán of Talensac, a handsome and somewhat mysterious knight. Tiarnán, though, marries the beautiful and innocent Eline of Comper instead. It’s an unhappy marriage, in more ways than one: Eline never learns to feel completely at ease in Tiarnán’s presence, and she’s troubled by his mysterious disappearances for days on end. Eventually, Tiarnán confesses his secret: He’s a werewolf! And not long afterward, he disappears for good and is presumed dead. In his absence, Eline runs the estate herself, but she has no experience and soon all the tenants are grumbling against her heavy-handed rule. At this point Marie, suspecting that Tiarnán is not dead after all, tries to find him and restore him to his rightful place as lord of the manor. But can she help him overcome his secret curse?
The usual Bradshaw: simple plot, good narration, and nice period coloring.