Thursday, February 11, 2010
Review: The Love Knot, by Elizabeth Chadwick
Original date of publication: 1998
My edition: 2006 (Time Warner)
Why I decided to read: It’s Elizabeth Chadwick, what else can I say?
How I acquired my copy: Purchased through bookdepository.
The Love Knot is the story of two young lovers, set during the civil war between Stephen and Matilda. Oliver de Pascal is knight just returned from pilgrimage, who rescues the widow Catrin from a village destroyed by raiders. A romance develops between them, but “forces beyond their control” cleave them apart, helped in part by a difficult decision that Catrin must make. Years later, after war has devastated England, they are drawn back together. The ending is a bit predictable, but it’s the getting there that’s the fun part.
Elizabeth Chadwick’s novels, at least her earlier ones, are a little formulaic. Of course there’s the romance aspect, and there’s a bad guy who’s usually a mercenary soldier. Throw in lots of historical detail and famous persons from the period, and that’s usually what you’ll get. But despite the predictability of Chadwick’s plots, her novels are always detailed in terms of history—be prepared to learn a lot about the 12th century. I do love medieval history, and it’s novels like The Love Knot that enhance my interest in that fascinating time period. It’s a very real novel that explores both the good and bad bits of medieval life.
Another thing I enjoyed about this book was the characters—they’re very three-dimensional, coming as they do with lots of emotional stuff that they must work out in order for the story to come to its resolution. Don’t be put off by the fact that Catrin is a midwife and healer—as written by a less skillful author, this could have become a cliché, but Chadwick manages to make Catrin and her healing knowledge believable. This novel is largely about choices, and how the choices one makes can significantly alter one’s life—as Catrin’s choice does to her and Oliver. The Love Knot isn’t my favorite Elizabeth Chadwick book (I thought the way that Catrin and Oliver came back together was a bit too sudden), but I did enjoy this book nonetheless (incidentally, Elizabeth Cahdwick’s books are also good comfort reads—The Love Knot was the perfect book for me to read while I had a cold).