A Place Beyond Courage is the third Elizabeth Chadwick novel I’ve read, after The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion. In those books, Chadwick tackled the life of William Marshal; in this one, she fictionalizes the life of his father, John Fitzgilbert. Like a lot of readers, I’d really only known about John Fitzgilbert through his “hammer and anvil” speech, so I was curious to find out what Chadwick would do with her subject.
I wasn’t disappointed; Chadwick makes John almost as likeable a character as his son. John’s life was fascinating because he was involved with so many of the major political events of the 12th century: he served as Henry I’s marshal and then became embroiled in the civil war between Stephen and Matilda. He married a local heiress, Aline, but the pair were completely unsuited to one another, and John divorced her and married Sybilla, sister of his rival. Chadwick does a fantastic job in this novel, as with all her books, of bringing characters that have been dead for 800 years to life on the page. She’s especially adept at playing up or down the relationships between each of the characters. The story moves at a rapid pace, and I look forward to reading more of Elizabeth Chadwick’s novels in the near future.
Also reviewed by: Passages to the Past, Reading Adventures, Tanzanite's Shelf and Stuff