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Sunday, June 7, 2015

An Earthly Knight - Janet McNaughton

Here’s another great entry in the list of books that are mostly historical fiction, with just a touch of a fairy tale thrown in.    In this case, it’s a combination of the stories “Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight” and “Tam Lin”.

Lady Jeanette is the younger daughter of a Norman Lord living in the Borders of Scotland.    Her older sister, Isabel, had been the hope of the family for marrying well and increasing their father’s influence in Scotland, but she has been disgraced.     So Jenny finds herself the new focus of her father’s need to expand his influence.      At the same time, she meets Tam Lin, the grandson of the Duke of Roxburgh, who had disappeared for a time, before resurfacing at the old family hall, now in ruins.      He lives there alone, and most think him mad.    Jenny is immediately drawn to him.

When Jenny catches the eye of Earl William, younger brother to King Malcolm, heir presumptive to the throne, Jenny’s father is thrilled.     Jenny is not so sure.    Torn between Tam and her duty to her family, she must figure out a way to make her own life.

The author mentioned in the end notes that she went to Scotland to poke around in the area where she wanted Jenny to live, and you can tell she’s put a lot of thought into this story – trying to her best to capture an accurate flavor of the twelfth century in the Borders.     I really enjoyed this book – Jenny is a worthy protagonist, and it was exciting to see where her story would go next.

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