Original date of publication: 1999
My edition: 1999 (Headline)
Why I decided to read: It’s been on my TBR list for a while now
How I acquired my copy: Online through Amazon UK, September 2009
Written in epistolary form, The Love Knot is the story of the love affair between Joanna, Duchess of Gloucester and daughter of King Edward (Joan of Acre); and Ralph Monthermer, Welsh knight. Witness to their love affair is the cold, shred clerk named Henry Trokelowe, who is charged by the King to discover what happened in the matter of the death of Gilbert de Clare, Joanna’s husband. His behavior is starkly in contrast to that of the lovers, whose passionate affair drives the action of much of this novel.
The letters are written by several of the characters: from Joanna to Ralph and vice versa; and from Trokelowe to the King (and there are a couple of letters at the end from the King to various people, to tie up the loose ends of the story). Each of the characters writes in a very distinct, unique style. Trokelowe, having seen people destroyed by love, is a skeptic on the subject matter, and has even written on the subject of the danger of lovesickness; so it was interesting over the course of the letters to see things from his point of view.
In the meantime, I was very drawn in by Joan and Ralph’s romance, which wasn’t at all run-of-the-mill. Joanna, having seen her parents have a loving, happy relationship, wants the same for herself, and it’s this desire that propels her action throughout the book. The novel is short, and it only covers a period of about three months, during the spring and early summer of 1297. Therefore, it necessarily leaves quite a lot out, which in some ways is a shame, since there’s such a wealth of material here that the author could have worked with (for example, Joanna gave birth to her oldest child with Monthermer in October 1297—ten months after the death of Gilbert de Clare—so it’s possible that by the time this novel takes place, she would have known about the pregnancy). It’s a wonderful story; I’d love to find a longer account of it!