The Conquest is set during and after the Norman conquest of 1066. Ailith is a Saxon housewife, her husband the armorer to King Harold. After her husband’s death, she has an affair with Rolf de Brize, a Norman; and years laterm their daughter Julitta takes up with Benedict. The Conquest is a story about love, loss, and hope during the most trying of times.
I enjoyed this book, though not as much as Elizabeth Chadwick’s other novels. As usual, the book is well-written and researched (I learned more about medieval horses than I ever thought I would), but there was something missing about this book that I can’t quite put my finger on. Rolf and Ailith aren’t the most sympathetic characters in this novel, and I found myself not particularly caring for their relationship (actually, I think that Ailith was much better off without him, brothel or not!). Julitta and Benedict, however, are much more likeable.
On the other hand, EC does a great job with description: the Battle of Hastings is particularly well-rendered. And the story really does flow well, keeping the reader turning pages constantly. I just don’t feel that this is Elizabeth Chadwick’s strongest book, however.