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The Squire's Tale by Margaret Frazer
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The Squire's Tale (edition 2002)

by Margaret Frazer

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Member:dahliapetunia
Title:The Squire's Tale
Authors:Margaret Frazer
Info:Robert Hale Ltd (2002), Hardcover, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:**1/2
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The Squire's Tale by Margaret Frazer

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"The Squire's Tale" is the 10th book in Margeret Frazer's Dame-Frevisse-series about a nun solving murder mysteries. It works as a stand-alone-read, though, references to previous books being slight.

Robert Fenner has made a fortunate marriage with a wealthy widow bringing him wealth, land and three children; but unfortunately he does not love his wife. And right now he's continually quarreling with her about his wish to settle a justified claim on his lands by arbitration.

Part of the proposed settlement is his young ward Katherine - Robert has the right to marry her to a man of his choosing (rather than hers) who will then legally come into possession of her whole inheritance. But her wealth provokes attempts of abduction, and Robert sends her to the nunnery of St. Frideswide's to keep her safe.

When Katherine is called back to be presented to her prospective bridegroom during the arbitration proceedings, Dame Frevisse accompanies her. She is caught up in the fight between Robert and his wife Blaunche about the arbitration that unsettles the whole household. Meanwhile, Robert has to suppress his secret love for Katherine and take his unruly stepson Benedict in hand. So it's no wonder that one morning, a member of the household is found murdered.

I had difficulties summing up the plot because so many things are going on: though the murder takes place after about 2/3 of the book it's never boring or verbose. The events leading to murder unfold slowly at first but with an ever increasing pace, and they are as varied as to include a secret love, attempted abduction, legal proceedings, family life and household management etc.

The story is narrated from Robert's and Dame Frevisse's point of view alternately, and the chapters complement each other very well. The characters (major and minor) are rounded and possess depth; we can share their sentiments but they always stay true to the beliefs of their time in which we don't share any more. I think that's one of the best features of the novel (as of the whole series); I simply can't bear medieval detectives who just happen to be monks or nuns for the sake of a picturesque setting. Dame Frevisse's life, on the other hand, is guided by her religious beliefs, her involvement in murder mysteries being an unwelcome distraction. And she holds fast in the medieval Christian belief which is so strange to the modern reader - unbaptised children being condemned to hell without hope of salvation, the need to carry out certain rites to assure a soul's salvation etc. But this strangeness doesn't make her unlikeable, she is a person with compassion and common sense and very real to me.

As always, Margaret Frazer excels in the description of everyday medieval life without making it feel like a history textbook. I could immerse myself in the story because the setting was painted in distinct detail. To read about life in the middle ages in an entertaining way is a real boon.

The murder itself is placed late in the book and quickly - and neatly - solved but this is not a shortcoming but rather a logical consequence of the book's layout. It's one of my absolute favourites, and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in historical mysteries. ( )
  1502Isabella | Jan 2, 2012 |
Not my favorite of the Sister Frevisse novels: I found the plot confusing, and some of the characters hard to differentiate. Still, the book is worth reading for its vivid recreation of a distant time and place. ( )
  annbury | Sep 9, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Margaret Frazerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jaber, PamelaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Madill, WarrenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
An housbonde I wol have, I wol nat lette,
Which shal be both my dettour and my thral...
- "The Wife of Bath's Tale", Geoffrey Chaucer
Dedication
For Sarah and Bill
Most excellent friends and superlative people who - for good measure - gave me an idea for the next book.
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The spring evening was drawing in to blue darkness under the tatters of low black clouds streaming away to the east on a warm-edged wind that promised a fair dawn tomorrow.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425182711, Mass Market Paperback)

HONEST LOVE, DISHONEST LUST...

Years ago, young Robert Fenner was forced into marriage with Lady Blaunche. Now, in 1442, he is being forced toward warfare over the property to which she wrongfully claims ownership. To make matters worse, a wealthy young heiress has captured hearts on both sides of the feud - including his - and it is up to Robert to decide whom she will marry.

Drawn from her nunnery's contemplative quiet by Lady Blaunche's need, Dame Frevisse is caught up among the passions of a man desperate for what he cannot have; a powerful knight blocked from what is rightfully his; and a young woman trapped in the eye of the storm.

Who will see that justice is done after honest love and dishonest lust spawn anger, greed, and finally... murder?

"As exquisitely woven as a medieval tapestry... Frazer's research is dazzling." - The Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Written with the graceful rhythms that have garnered her two Edgar nominations... transports the reader to a medieval England made vivid and a world of emotions as familiar then as now." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:50:22 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Robert Fenner confronts dangerous threats to his lands and family, as Dame Frevisse is drawn into an investigation involving conflicting loyalties, dark passions, greed, and murder.

(summary from another edition)

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