Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Strongbow's Wife by Frank Parker

Strongbow's Wife
by Frank Parker

My rating: 5 stars

Publication Date: June 10, 2014
Publisher: Frank Parker
ISBN: 1499601220
Genre: Historical Fiction | Women in History
Print Length: 154 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

In August 1166, aged 13, Aoife left Ireland in the company of her mother, Mor and father, Dermot MacMurrough, in pursuit of the latter’s quest to obtain support for his campaign to regain the kingship of Leinster. Events during the year that elapsed between departure and return are imagined and described through her eyes. By the time of the family’s return to Ireland she had been promised to Strongbow.
Another three years elapsed before Strongbow’s eventual arrival in Ireland. The book captures the frustration of this period for Aoife and her father. The marriage at the end of August 1170 was preceded by a massacre, by the invading force, of the citizens of Waterford and their allies. Aoife’s reaction to this event and her consequent reluctance to fulfil her father’s promise is explored.
The initial campaign by Dermot and Strongbow is at first successful but ends with the brutal murder of Dermot’s beloved grandson and other close relatives. Blaming this atrocity on the enduring hostility between O’Rourke and her father, Aoife is unable to forgive either.
The arrival in Ireland of Henry II of England is followed by the birth of Aoife’s first child. The impact on Aoife’s life of the marriage of Strongbow’s sister Basilia to Raymond Fitz Gerald aka Le Gros is profound. Just as she is becoming comfortable with that situation Strongbow dies bringing a further major change in her circumstances.
Based on the assumption that she then became dowager of Striguil (Chepstow), the book shows her dealing with the aftermath of the Abergavenny massacre and setting up a successful business.
The book ends with her musings about the future governance of Ireland in the light of the young Prince John’s behaviour during his visit to the island, an event that coincided with the death of her son.

Strongbow's Wife by Frank Parker

History, specifically the conflicts between the English and the Irish, do you know any more than the dry and required reading in school?

There were centuries of bloodshed, deceit, and even tenuous peace. We know about the men, the warriors, their grit and determination, but what about the women? What of their strength and determination? What about their precarious position in life where all can be lost if their husband dies? This is the story of one woman who defied the social attitudes of the times and undertook preserving the legacy her hero husband left behind while vowing to make things better for the people who depended on her.

Travel back to the twelfth century, when a thirteen-year-old girl becomes the prize to help cement profit and support for her father’s quest to regain his throne. Unlike so many political marriages, they find love and respect between each other, but Aoife has become a young widowed mother and the world she has come to know is about to crumble. It is only through her sacrifice, her grit and her ingenious methods that gain the respect and loyalty of her late husband’s people.

Strongbow’s Wife by Frank Parker feels like living back in a time when people toiled from dawn to dusk just to survive, yet they found joy in the simple things. Farmers became soldiers, soldiers fought and died all for loyalty to hearth, home and their lords. Never underestimate the power of a woman who was born with a will of iron and the heart to do what it takes. Aoife was ahead of her time, even by today’s “standards” she would be a force to be reckoned with as she maneuvers through royal courts, powerful foes and allies alike.

Do you like historical books? There is no heated romance, this is like having history come alive, the passion lies in the words of the author and the action lies in the characters he has created. Proof that heroes and heroines are just people, who rise to the occasion when needed. Very highly recommended as one of those hidden gems just needing to be read!

I received this copy from Frank Parker in exchange for my honest review.


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