THOMAS by Shelley Mydans
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Some seven years after commencing her research into the story of Thomas a Becket and Henry II of England, Shelley Mydans' careful book about Thomas stands as testimony to a good deal of knowledge, in particular about the outer facts of his life. She follows Thomas' progress from boyhood training as a clerk and a knight; his study in Paris under Robert of Melun; his coming to Canterbury as Theobald's protege, first as clerk, then as archdeacon. His life crossed that of the King when he rode for Henry Duke of Normandy, at the time of King Stephen's death. The story picks up interest with Henry's entrance, taking on some of the urgency of that powerful figure, who acted as patron and friend, then as opponent and enemy to the man he raised to chancellor, later Archbishop of Canterbury, only to find his prerogatives placed second to those of God. Thomas the courtier, the soldier, emerges ultimately, shiningly, as a man of God, ready to die for His cause...and yet, despite the scourges and penances, one wonders whether he has really left his pride behind. Some of the same glimpses of character are afforded here as in Anouilh's Becket, some are at variance (Thomas made a vow of chastity in his youth that he maintained throughout his life); some of the same exchanges made between Henry and Thomas; but in the total chronology of his life, there is greater adherence to fact, leaving the inherent drama unretouched. Thomas' own spiritual experience is approached almost timorously: he remains a splendid enigma. A superior job.

Publisher: Doubleday