I apologize in advance if this review is...uneven. I read the first 60% of the book and then took a 2 month break before picking it up again to finish it, which I had pretty much never done before. Usually when I go that long without picking a book up again I never finish it so this was a novel experience for myself (sorry, couldn't help myself).
Anyway, if I remember correctly I was enjoying this, but the angst I hit at the 60% mark was just too much for my poor heart to bear.
Basically Oliver comes across Catrin on his way to Bristol, having just returned from the Holy Land. Catrin is one of only two survivors of a raid on their village and he brings them both with him. Once in Bristol Catrin starts learning to become a midwife and herbalist and the two slowly fall in love. Which I loved btw. Oliver was still traumatized by his wife and child dying in childbirth (which is why he made a pilgrimage) and Catrin herself has only been a widow a year, her husband having drowned. So the two of them both have sadness in their past, but they learn to love again with each other and it all unfolds slowly and, IMO, realistically.
There is also a bad guy running around who they have to deal with, but the real kicker, and SPOILER ALERT, is when Catrin's husband returns. He had faked his death to escape justice after killing a jealous husband. You see, he was not really the good guy Catrin thought she loved, but a charming and handsome fraud who deceived most people to get him way. Anyway, when he returns (and this is the first thing that made me set this aside for a while), Catrin sleeps with him! Nope nuh-uh.
Cheating is not okay. I was so pissed with her after that. And then to make matters worse she goes back to him leaving Oliver brokenhearted! Argh! And this is where I put the book down. I was so mad at Catrin and sad for Oliver. Although i suppose this is what makes a good book? When you are so invested in the characters that you FEEL for them.
And so I had to put it down. The ending was good though. Once things turned around I was loving it again, although because it's Chadwick, I was tense the entire time that something else bad would happen. She doesn't pull any punches.
Also as usual with a Chadwick book, the history of the time period invades the entire story and it is excellently done. And you can always rest assured that the history is accurate with her! Chadwick writes well, she's done her research and she knows how to transport you to medieval England and I love that about all of her books that I've read.
"Her heart was too soft and she sought for love in all the wrong places, but if that is a sin, then more than half of us is damned!"
"Yes, but the real enemy is that neither one trusts the other to keep living against the daily odds."