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Wife to the Bastard by Hilda Lewis

Wife to the Bastard

by Hilda Lewis

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This is a fairly old (1960s) (semi-auto)biographical novel about the life of Matilda of Flanders, wife of William the Conqueror. I wasn't sure at first if I cared for the author's slightly distant literary style of chronicling events, but decided that I did like it after all, and that in fact this is a very well written historical novel. William and Matilda's marriage was by any reasonable Medieval yardstick a very successful one, but cracks appear over their children (a timeless story) and in particular William's perpetual distrust of his oldest son, Robert, to whom he refuses to relinquish any of his power as the latter grows to manhood. This reminded me rather of the very similar generational clash a century later between William's great grandson Henry II and his son Henry, the Young King, though the latter was definitely a less appealing individual than Robert. The author clearly cannot stand William Rufus, who is portrayed in entirely negative terms as a vicious brat. Matilda's thought processes do get a little tiresomely repetitive at times, and the novel is perhaps slightly overlong, but it is well worth a read by anyone interested in historical fiction set in this period of history. ( )
  john257hopper | Mar 25, 2015 |
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Matilda of Flanders, queen to William the Conqueror was beautiful, exquisitely small, clever, with a perfect courtesy trained in the rigid school of medieval manners. But within lay a root of darkness - inheritance, perhaps, of Viking ancestors. Twice, at least, in her lifetime the Viking streak broke through, in vengeance on a faithless lover, in fury wreaked on a rival of the marriage bed. The marriage, though fruitful of so many children, was on her side no match of love. But a passionate loyalty to her husband, an equally passionate ambition, together with her own sense of justice, gave her the will and the skill to dissemble her feelings and to make her the praise of Christendom. No Queen ever wielded so much power as she in the long years she ruled Normandy; before her no woman in England was ever crowned or was known as Queen.
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