The Sinner’s Tale
by Will Davenport
Category: Fiction / General
320 pages; ISBN: 0553802178
Rating: 9/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner
The Sinner’s Tale
Bantam, April 2005, $13.00, 320 pp.
All his life Sir Guy de Bryan was a loyal vassal to King Edward fighting for him in the war with the French. He loved one woman Elizabeth but lost her through trickery by another of the king’s warriors, Sir John Molyns. Sir John would commit any atrocity if it meant that England would win the battle. A brave soldier Guy comes to believe he will go to purgatory for all the men he killed in battle. He bought more absolutions than he could afford and built a chapel on his estate in Slapton where monks provide continuous prayers for him. By the end of his life his opinion of war changed dramatically.
In the present, British government aide Beth Battack assures the Americans that her country will support them in the upcoming war. She believes that sometimes war is the only answer for a lasting peace. A scandal has Beth hiding out in her home village of Slapton. Her dying father expects her to arrange the yearly mass for Guy de Braun. The Battocks are descendants of Sir Guy’s priest who led the prayers in the chapel Sir Guy built. After tragedy strikes her family, Beth realizes war is not always the answer.
This is really two stories in one novel, Sir Guy is a man who has come to hate war with its lack of chivalry and horror while Beth believes that war is sometimes the answer. The two stories are linked by the priest who first said the prayers on Sir Guy’s behalf, who is an ancestor of Beth’s family. The medieval parts of the tale are absorbing and entertaining but Beth’s story seems comparatively weaker with a seemingly implausible ending to an overall fine rally cry for give peace a chance.
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