Original date of publication: 1971
My edition: 1971 (Dobson Books)
Why I decided to read: Elizabeth Chadwick recommendation
How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, September 2009
I first heard about Juliet Dymoke’s books through Elizabeth Chadwick, who listed Henry of the High Rock as one of her favorite historical fiction books. Henry is actually the second in a loosely-connected trilogy of books that can be read separately (the first is Of the Ring of Earls). Henry of the High Rock is about Henry Beauclerc, a younger son of William the Conqueror who, despite the odds, became King of England. This novel is about his struggle to get there and his love, along the way, for Eadgyth of Scotland.
Dymoke has a habit of portraying her male characters in a more or less rosy light; her Henry is very much romanticized. But I liked the portrait she painted of him. Her treatment of the struggles between Henry and his brothers is well done. Dymoke gives her readers a great feeling for the time and place in which her novels are set, and I felt that I came to know Henry, his brothers, and Eadgyth very well through this book. The book takes place over the course of about ten years, and Dymoke develops her characters in a very believable way. Because of the large time span, however, the narrative jumps from one place to another, and I felt that the plot never really focused on one thing before moving on to another. But I loved reading about these characters and getting to know them. The books in this series are much better than those in Dymoke’s Plantagenet Pride of Kings series, so be sure to read this one first… if you can get your hands on a copy, since her books are out of print.