Reviewed by Claudia Robinson

“Matilda sat down on the bed in her chamber at Carrouges. Her crown was making her head ache. It might look delicate thing, but she had been wearing it for most of the day amid formal ceremonies and celebrations; the weight was beginning to tell on her neck and the band was squeezing her temples. Even so, she had no intentions of taking off, because while she wore it, she was a queen and an empress and she had authority.”

Matilda the Good’s father, Henry I, King of England, has not produced a male heir. After her husband’s death, Matilda is called back to her home in Normandy, to her Father and his young wife, Adeliza, where a pact of marriage to the boy-child, Geoffrey, son of the Count of Fulke, has been made, in hopes of Matilda conceiving a son to succeed Henry’s throne upon his death. Upon her return, Henry demands his courtiers to swear fealty to his daughter, accepting her as Head of England until an heir is produced.

An untimely and ultimately suspicious death for the King, however, leaves Queen Adeliza and Matilda fighting against conspirators to the Kingdom, under the direction of Stephan, Count of Mortain, who upon the King’s death, claims the throne. Bereft, and desperate for a child, the widow Queen, Adeliza, eventually accepts the hand in marriage of Will, one of Stephan’s courtesans, who has promised her true love and a full womb. Matilda is left alone to fight for her son’s right to the throne of England.

Exquisitely detailed, historically accurate, deviously plotted, Lady of the English is a richly woven tapestry of intrigue, deception, loss, and lust, both for love and power. Adept at fleshing out her characters, Chadwick proffers a female’s perspective of what loyalty and birthright can do when wielded as weapons in a strong, fierce female’s hand. Proof that brawn and brain are worthy adversaries, and that one should never assume which will be victor, as desire and pride can flash a sharper and deadlier blade than brute strength.

Lush, addicting and finely honed, Lady of the English delivers a wallop of medieval fiction that manages to temporarily leave the reader believing that anything is possible if the desire for success is, above all else, the heart’s only goal. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction, written to place them right in the fray of the story, will relish Lady of the English, page for page.

Rating: 5/5

Check out reviews of Chadwick’s To Defy a King and For the King’s Favor

Claudia lives on beautiful Cape Cod with her husband and two children.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Sourcebooks Landmark. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.