I like historical fiction and if it’s women-centred then so much the better. I have never read Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, but that is not necessary to enjoy and appreciate this novel.
Here’s the blurb …
In the middle ages, a poet told a story that mocked a strong woman. It became a literary classic. But what if the woman in question had a chance to tell her own version? Who would you believe?
England, The Year of Our Lord, 1364
When married off aged 12 to an elderly farmer, Eleanor Cornfed, who’s constantly told to seek redemption for her many sins, quickly realises it won’t matter what she says or does, God is not on her side – or any poor woman’s for that matter.
But Eleanor was born under the joint signs of Venus and Mars. Both a lover and a fighter, she will not bow meekly to fate. Even if five marriages, several pilgrimages, many lovers, violence, mayhem and wildly divergent fortunes (that swoop up and down as if spinning on Fortuna’s Wheel itself) do not for a peaceful life make.
Aided and abetted by her trusty god-sibling Alyson, the counsel of one Geoffrey Chaucer, and a good head for business, Eleanor fights to protect those she loves from the vagaries of life, the character deficits of her many husbands, the brutalities of medieval England and her own fatal flaw… a lusty appreciation of mankind. All while continuing to pursue the one thing all women want – control of their own lives.
This funny, picaresque, clever retelling of Chaucer’s ‘Wife of Bath’ from The Canterbury Tales is a cutting assessment of what happens when male power is left to run unchecked, as well as a recasting of a literary classic that gives a maligned character her own voice, and allows her to tell her own (mostly) true story.
I really enjoyed it – it’s a fast paced, entertaining read about England (rural and London) during the late 1300s.