Time and Chance by Sharon Kay Penman
It was medieval England’s immortal marriage—Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II, bound by passion and ambition, certain to leave a legacy of greatness. But while lust would divide them, it was friendship—and ultimately faith—that brought bloodshed into their midst. It began with Thomas Becket, Henry’s closest confidant, and his elevation to be Archbishop of Canterbury. It ended with a perceived betrayal that made a royal murder seem inevitable. Along the way were enough scheming, seductions, and scandals to topple any kingdom but their own. . . . (From Goodreads)
It’s greatly recommended – no actually you SHOULD read When Christ and his Saints Slept. Not only does it give you the background, an introduction to some characters that are featured in this book, and a lot of history, Time and Chance is a continuation of previously mentioned novel.
There’s just something about Penman’s words that weaves the entire story into one very long epic movie like book. Everything is so well written, and descriptions are spot on and accurate. There are a lot of characters, yet maybe around 3 or 4 will stand out to you and you’ll take a liking to them. All the characters are written, and have distinct personalities to make them easier to remember. Some from the previous novel are also mentioned (Ranulf for example, who is one of my favorites). You do find yourself attached to some characters – I was happy to see William Marshall! he quickly became a favorite of mine.
It was interesting to see the friendship between Thomas Becket and King Henry. It just deteriorated as you progress through the book (sometimes you feel like they’re bickering like children and you want to send them to their respective corners) it was interesting to see what happened that led up to Thomas getting killed.
What was also interesting was when Rosamund enters the picture. Now, I’m all Team Eleanor when it comes to this issue (in fact, if I was Eleanor things would have ended up bloody if I were standing face to face with someone like Rosamund). I didn’t really like her, not just because she ended up breaking the band but because she just seemed like an empty headed bimbo with no purpose whatsoever except to make Henry happy (I’m sure he liked it that way too). I really did sympathize with Eleanor in this book. Not only was she extremely strong in so many ways (seriously Henry? making her pop out child after child and having Rosamund on the side? wow. Talk about having the cake and eating it whole) and I loved reading about her. She’s a fascinating character, especially for being a woman during that particular time period.
This was a great book to read. A lot of information to swallow, a lot of rich fantastic characters that make the plot interesting and run smoothly. A must read for historical fiction fans, and fans of Sharon Kay Penman. Those curious would be better off with When Christ and his Saints Slept (where everything begins).
I give it a 9 out of 10.