I’ve been reading, reading, reading – more than I have for years. One of the problems with graduate work in English is that it seems to destroy the ability to enjoy normal pleasure reading for awhile. But now that seems to have started to wear off, so I’ve been finding new authors to enjoy. Here is a quick review of one of those authors.
I stumbled across Margaret Frazer’s work in a bookstore a few months ago. Medieval history and murder? Looked like it was right up my alley. I’ve since read three of her books in the Sister Frevisse series (The Novice’s Tale, The Sempster’s Tale, and The Squire’s Tale), and although none are perfect – the latter two in particular have some repetition of characters’ thoughts that seems unnecessary – they are highly enjoyable. Rather like Ellis Peters’s Cadfael books, but with more being out and about in the world, this series features a somewhat reluctant crime-solving nun. While she would prefer to stay in her tiny, rural abbey, she is always being sent hither and yon on abbey business, during which a murder invariably crops up.
The character of Sister Frevisse, intelligent and no-nonsense, though also kind, has made these books quite entertaining. I’m also enjoying the background history; they take place in the mid-1400’s during the reign of Henry VI, when the conflicts that would become the Wars of the Roses were beginning to fall into place. Frevisse is serious about her faith, and the reader is privy to her thoughts on prayer, mercy, temptation, and other questions the faithful consider on a regular basis. Finally, romance, while present in the books, is treated humanely and maturely and does not always trump everything else in life. Sometimes couples in love get together; sometimes they are separated by circumstances; sometimes one loves more than the other and loses the loved one. I must admit, it’s a refreshing approach.
Enjoyable, easy to put your hands on, and with a fairly large number in the series, these books are definitely recommended.