THE WORLD, THE FLESH AND THE DEVIL by Reay Tannahill

THE WORLD, THE FLESH AND THE DEVIL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Heresy, civil war and forbidden love in 15th-century Scotland give bulk if not flavor to this moorside romance, from the author of A Dark and Distant Shore (1983). Feisty and plump Ninian Drummond has had her eye on Gavin, Bishop of Glasgow, for some time: she longed to stare into his gray eyes when he blessed her wedding bed. Now the wife of boorish Sir Harry Graham, she has an ever-deepening crush on Gavin (risen from near-poverty to become chancellor to King James I), but it represents a conflict of interest: he's enemy-number-one of her de-facto godfather, Columba, who's also a powerful figure in the Scottish church. Columba's in Rome, scrounging for allies in the papal court, but his ambitious bastard son Adam is looking for trouble on the homefront, stirring up rebellion among the contentious Highland lords, with the aim of getting rid of James--and Gavin. When another of Columba's sons faces execution for his role in a thwarted revolt, Ninian takes his case to Gavin and, by accident, confesses her secret lust. During the scene that follows, Gavin lets slip a heretical secret: that he believes in the existence of ""free will."" Then follows a kiss. Husband Harry dies in battle; brutal events (the burning of a heretic, the death by plague of Ninian's daughter) alternate with increasingly heated Ninian-Gavin encounters. Will the lovers risk damnation--or worse, political ruin--to continue their liaison? After a brutal raid leaves the King dead, Gavin takes a sabbatical of sorts, puts his moral anguish on hold, and whisks Ninian off to Kinveil, his childhood home. The formulaic ebbs and flows of the love story are engrossing enough, but despite a smattering of historical detail and the requisite foul smells and grisly deaths, period atmosphere is in short supply. Well-worn seductions.

Pub Date: Feb. 2nd, 1986
Publisher: Crown