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The Illuminator
by Brenda Rickman Vantrease

Category: Fiction / Historical
406 pages; ISBN: 0312331916

Rating: 9/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner

Review

The Illuminator
Brenda Rickman Vantrease
St. Martin’s, Mar 2005, $24.95, 406 pp.
ISBN: 0312331916

Late in the fourteenth century, Lady Kathryn struggles to maintain her small East Anglia estate so that her fifteen years old twin sons Colin and Alfred have a future. To accomplish her objective and stay on the good side of the local abbey, Kathryn accepts two guests at her home, widower Finn a master illuminator, and his sixteen years old daughter Rose.

Finn and Kathryn hit it off from the start as the two kindhearted souls tumble into an affair of the heart while the devout Colin and Rose are also attracted to one another. However, as Finn works for the nearby abbey, he is also a strong secret supporter of heretic John Wycliffe, who wants the Church’s fundamental scriptures put into the common speak of the people. Finn is translating a version in English that if he is caught is certain death for him and potentially for his hostess and his daughter.

Set during a period of unrest (the Peasant's Revolt of 1381), this is a fabulous historical work of fiction that brings to life a pivotal moment in the history of England; whether the Norman rulers will choose English as the state and religious language or not. The prime characters enable the reader to grasp the nuances of the age as duty comes before love and conflict resolution means the strong do more than just survive; they take what they want including an unprotected widow who must use her wit to elude suitors who see her estate up for grabs. Brenda Rickman Vantrease illuminates the medieval era with a deep tale that sub-genre readers will cherish.

Harriet Klausner

 

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