Margaret Campbell Barnes’s novel, The Passionate Brood is a novel of Richard the Lion Heart and Europe during the 12th century. The novel follows Richard and his family through daily life, crusades, marriages, alliances, and arguments. Barnes introduces Robin Hood as Richard’s foster brother. While this is fictional, there is historical evidence to suggest that Robin was known by members of this family. Robin’s characteristics are juxtaposed with that of Richard’s character. By doing this, we are able to see all of the characteristics Richard lacks while also illuminating the characteristics he does have. Barnes uses Robin as a source of Richard’s conscience, although Robin is not present for the majority of the book.
Richard is well known for his crusades, his time away from England and the means of which he financed his crusades, “I would sell London if only I could find a buyer.” Barnes gracefully portrays Richard as this king, determined to conquer at any cost, while also providing Richard with the characteristics that make him the enduring iconic character he is best known to be. Barnes does a nice job of showing both sides of Richard’s personality. The tension of the story ebbs and flows gracefully as the scenes are alternated with moments of conflict and battle with those of family life and scenes with the women.
Barnes also does a great job of portraying the women in relation to the men of the story. Barnes portrays the women as feminine but strong-minded and intelligent enough to understand the politics and consequences of the crusades. On many occasion, it is Richard’s mother, wife, or sister who provide him with advice. In the story, Richard is closest to these women and Robin.
As historical fiction becomes increasingly popular, it is important to save a place on your bookshelves for Margaret Campbell Barnes (1891-1962). Barnes wrote ten historical novels between 1944 and 1962. Barnes’research is in-depth and factually accurate and very relevant. The fictional elements are weaved throughout her story very carefully. Barnes’s novel, while very much a historical account of Richard’s brief reign and Europe during the 12th century, it is also a very enjoyable read.
Part-time fiction writer, Alisha Churbe lives in Portland, Oregon. In the rare instances when you can pry her away from books, Alisha can be found travelling in foreign countries, cooking, or hiking with her husband Michael and dog Zach.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Sourcebooks Landmark. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.