Fourteenth-century England. The country is in turmoil. The King is in debt to the City, and the old order had broken down. The King's mistress, Alice Perrers, becomes the virtual ruler of the country. Disliked and despised by the Black Prince, her strong connections to the merchants make her a natural ally for the King's ambitious second son, John of Gaunt. Together, they create a powerful position for one of his henchmen, Geoffrey Chaucer. In this moment of opportunity, Alice throws herself into her new role and the riches that lay before her....
What a disappointing book. Instead of the story of the King and John O Gaunt, this is a narrative of the wool trade and its workings. The money they loaned to the King and the interest charged. I have given up listening to it after a couple of chapters as I would rather have heard about the war the wool merchants were funding rather than how the money was raised. Very very boring!
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I can't put my finger on why I didn't like this book, but only sheer bloodymindedness got me through it. I've listened to stories read by Lucy Scott before & found them okay, but some of the voices in this reading, particularly those of the children, really annoyed me. Despite growing irritation, I was determined to finish. I kept hoping things would improve, but the story was boring, and the stretching of what historical basis there was, did nothing to improve it. There were two main characters: Alice - irritating & unlikeable, and Geoffrey Chaucer - a dull wimp. I don't like to be negative, but that's almost 19 hours of my life I won't get back.
I listened to this straight after 'Katherine' by Anya Seton and it was intriguing to get a different slant!
This may be one of those books that's better in audio than in the written word, as it has been described elsewhere as 'hard work', and I can imagine that. The narrator makes it 3D, with a very spirited read that conjures up Alice perfectly. Small annoyances: the narrator is not always good at scanning to the end of a sentence or line for clues as to how to start it, so sometimes gets the wrong emphasis or intonation. Also I do find mispronunciations irritating especially when it's just a matter of a Google click to check. But other than that the narrator and the author drew me into Alice's world brilliantly. I especially enjoyed the insights into Geoffrey Chaucer's life and warm personality. This is a fascinating period of English history and the book brings it to life very well.
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