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The Servant's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #2)
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The Servant's Tale (Sister Frevisse #2)

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  1,333 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
Sister Frevisse is sinfully good at discerning the mysteries of the soul and solving the crimes of the human heart in this charming series.
It's Christmastime, and the sisters of St. Frideswide cannot turn away travellers, even the players knocking at the nunnery door. But along with the motley troupe comes the grievously wounded husband of the cloister's scullery maid, Me
Paperback, 240 pages
Published November 1st 1993 by Berkley (first published 1993)
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Karen Brooks
Nov 01, 2012 Karen Brooks rated it liked it
I quite enjoyed this medieval murder mystery, part of a series written by Frazer and featuring the clever and intrepid nun, Sister Frevisse who, it happens, was a great-niece of Geoffrey Chaucer. Though this is the second book in the series, it’s the first I’ve read and it stands alone nicely.
Steeped in historic detail that deposits you in the period easily (approx 1430s), the pace of life and religiosity of not only the nuns who share the nunnery with Frevisse, but the villagers as well is des
Shifting focus to the village, the book is effective at contrasting the very difficult lives of the indentured villagers to those of the nuns and the well-to-do. As can often be a casualty in this genre, the overall effect of the story is to somewhat imply that this plight turns people into murderous and slightly insane types, but I'm not sure how you avoid that.
My main complaint was that the plot twists were so obvious, our clever nun appeared positively dense.
Kathy Davie
Apr 30, 2012 Kathy Davie rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, history
An Edgar Award-nominee, it's second in the Sister Frevisse medieval mystery series based in a nunnery, St. Frideswide, near Prior Byfield outside Oxfordshire. The story revolves around Dame Frevisse, one of the nuns in the year of Our Lord 1434 at Christmastide.

Interestingly enough, Basset and his traveling troupe appear in this installment (from her Joliffe the Player series that begins with

A Play of Isaac


My Take
It's a woman's worries about her family. Keeping the
Carol Flatten
Dec 19, 2016 Carol Flatten rated it liked it
I love this period of history and the setting at the nunnery. Frazer is really gifted in picturing how life was in this very primitive time in England. I enjoyed the book, but to me the murderer was pretty obvious from the beginning, so the mystery was not so mysterious as in her first book. I will continue to read her mysteries.
Jan 01, 2017 Becky rated it it was ok
The solution to this mystery was so obvious I thought it was being set up as the red herring.
Oct 28, 2016 Sheila rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read2016
I was more or less right but the book broke my heart anyway. *sniff*
Ana T.
"Frazer's ( The Novice's Tale ) second Sister Frevisse mystery returns to St. Frideswide's, the 15th-century English nunnery, where the priory's hosteler and amateur sleuth has three murders on her hands between Christmas and Epiphany. First is villager Barnaby Shene, brought to St. Frideswide's by a troupe of traveling players claiming to have found him in a ditch. Barnaby's son Sym accuses the players of robbing his father in ambush, and when Sym turns up dead, the players are further suspect. ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Better than the first installment, but rather slow and I found the ending to be very disappointing, because it was facile and felt rushed. I got the feeling the authors had written so much that they felt they had to finish somehow, before the narrative got away from them entirely--but while "unexpected", the chosen ending was "unexpected" because it didn't really fit and didn't leave a sense of inevitability and satisfaction.

I know that colds were a real scourge back in the day, particularly whe
Oct 24, 2011 Linda rated it liked it
This is a formulaic mystery set in a convent. Sister Frevisse is the detective and the time frame and place is Medieval England. There are the usual impoverished peasants living short and brutal lives; omnipresent cold in winter when one must build and stoke the fire constantly; inhumane lords; paltry meals and the sanctuary of the church with its attendant convent which is always clean and mostly warm. The Sisters are an assorted lot of complaining and uncomplaning women many of whom take care ...more
Oct 18, 2015 Cat rated it it was amazing
Christmastide and New Year's 1434 at St. Frideswide's priory was busier than expected. First, a local villein was found injured under his cart by a group of travelling players. Next the injured man's son is brought in, also injured, after a fight in the local pub. Then a nun who had befriended Meg, the wife and mother, was found with her head bashed in while praying in the chapel. What was happening in their beloved priory? The crowner was summoned after both men died of their wounds—or so the n ...more
Jill Holmes
Dec 11, 2012 Jill Holmes rated it it was amazing
A great mystery tale set in very old, merry olde England. Dame Frevisse puts her wits to work again in trying to understand who committed multiple murders just when a group of players arrived at St. Frideswide's Priory at Christmastide circa 1430. She finds the complicated pasts of the actors (the very lowest of the low in English society at that time) evoke suppressed memories of her own childhood. Despite the season and the celebration of the new year and Twelfth Night, everyone is grumpy from ...more
The second in the series and the first to introduce the companion series. A troupe of players arrives with an injured man in tow. The injured man is the drunkard husband of a part time worker at the convent. He drunkenly crashed his cart doing himself serious harm. The drunkard son blames the players and the other son wants nothing to do with his mother's plan for him joining the priesthood. Shortly after the death of his father, the son gets in a fight with the players and then he is murdered. ...more
Sep 10, 2016 Lawless rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jan 26, 2016 Booknblues rated it liked it
We visit the fifteenth century priory of St. Fridewides in a bleak cold winter in Margaret Frazer's book the Servant's Tale. all the sisters have caught the rheum (or flu) and a group of players(actors)bring in a badly injured man. His wife, Meg is a servant to the priory and badly wants a better life for herself and her children. This seems unlikely to happen with a maimed husband who was somewhat shiftless in the first place and given to drink.
Before long we have a murder and the players are t
Catherine  Mustread
Apr 26, 2012 Catherine Mustread rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this second book in the Sister Frevisse series, especially because of the tie-in with the Joliffe series, though this book takes place in 1434, some two years before the Joliffe the Player series begins. The historical context is great – in fact, greater than the mystery. Frazer (actually a pseudonym), narrows down the suspects and though there is a slight twist at the end, it's not much of a surprise. ...more
Jun 09, 2011 Emma rated it really liked it
I love very much historical fiction, especially set in the Middle Ages, by far my favorite period.

My favorite series is The Cadfael Chronicles. When I was done with them, I looked for something similar and discovered the Sister Frevisse series. It’s well documented, and fun. Easy read, good suspense.
I love very much historical fiction, especially set in the Middle Ages, by far my favorite period.

Original post:

Emma @ Words And Peace
Bill Bradford
Oct 23, 2012 Bill Bradford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of the earlier Frevisse novels show very clearly her internal struggles with adapting to life as a nun, and this one does an excellent job. It also lays some groundwork for relationships that further develop as the series continues. Most notably it introduces Joliffe, who now has his own series. Well paced, the story has an unusual twist (although it does give ample clues). As usual great care is given to the historical accuracy.
Jul 16, 2015 Pancha rated it it was ok
I didn't enjoy this as much as the first, although I still like the idea of the series. Frevisse is going through some kind of mid life crisis, but we don't get to see much of it other than her annoyance and irritation. And the mystery itself is unsatisfying the same way The Potter's Field is. A lot of unhappiness all around.
N Laffey
Mar 12, 2008 N Laffey rated it it was ok
I'm reading this book because I've read others in the series. Hardcore medieval nuns usually makes for good reading. This time I think I figured out "who done it" before the murder actually occurred. Am I fabulously intelligent or just too used to this author's style? Regardless, it's a decent read but maybe not the first one you should pick up.
Apr 24, 2008 Katie rated it liked it
I enjoyed this mystery. It's set more outside of the convent than the first Dame Frevisse mystery, but she still manages to maintain her keen eye on what's happening. It also has a very good point about how dangerous a little knowledge can be. I loved the players, and I loved Sister Frevisse for her willingness to trust them.
Jul 09, 2011 Beth rated it liked it
Shelves: for-fun, 2011
I enjoyed this book more than the first in the series, and Frazer is a good storyteller, drawing you into Frevisse's world. While I was able to spot the murderer early on, the writing was good enough to keep me interested until the end of the book, and I will continue reading others in the series.
Dennis Fischman
Feb 09, 2014 Dennis Fischman rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
A lovely book about a strong, independent woman's struggle to be at one with her convent community and with her God. Oh yes, and there's a murder mystery thrown in for good measure. I read it in one afternoon.
May 09, 2009 Janet rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Frazer’s clues were so obvious I was certain she was tossing out a red herring. As it turns out...she's just that obvious folks. The ending was 100% predictable. What Frazer lacks in imagination she makes up for with her finely drawn characters.
Miriam Holsinger
Jul 01, 2012 Miriam Holsinger rated it liked it
A good mystery - definitely a bit different. The story developed a bit slow as the writer describes in detail interesting historical bits about what life was like then. I'm curious to see who she adjusts this in other ones of this series.
Kilian Metcalf
Apr 02, 2013 Kilian Metcalf rated it really liked it
It's fun to go back and visit early books by a beloved author. I enjoy watching her develop her craft. Joliffe and the other players come into the story much earlier than I remembered. Can't wait for their next appearance.
May 09, 2016 Allison rated it it was amazing
Of all the Dame Frevisse novels (of the ones I've read so far), this one in particular seems to give more insight into our heroine's background and personality than any other. At the same time, the mystery surrounding the dead bodies is intricate as always. Another winner!
Sandra Strange
Another in this superior series of medieval mysteries, this one featuring the lower classes with all of the dirt, confusion, hopelessness and poverty that medieval peasants suffered. Great detail and authenticity in an intriguing mystery.
While I enjoyed Sister Frevisse as always, I can tell that this is early in the series. The murderer was a bit too predictable. However, I liked learning more about Frevisse's family (traveling players, as well as her connections to the Chaucer family).
Katie Bee
Jan 19, 2015 Katie Bee rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-books-read
The ending on this one was unexpectedly dark, although I did have an inkling in the back of my head about who'd done at least one of the murders. I love spending time with these characters, and I like that they're developing (this is a year and some months after Novice's Tale).
Apr 29, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it
The second in the Sister Frevisse series was even better than the first. Okay, I'm hooked. And it rereads even better a year later.
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Margaret Frazer is a pen name used at first by Mary Monica Pulver Kuhfeld and Gail Lynn Frazer writing in tandem for a series of historical medieval mysteries featuring Dame Frevisse. After the sixth novel, the works are written by Gail Frazer alone, and the name has subsequently been used exclusively by her. A second series of novels by Ms Frazer set in the same time and place feature the player/ ...more
More about Margaret Frazer...

Other Books in the Series

Sister Frevisse (1 - 10 of 17 books)
  • The Novice's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #1)
  • The Outlaw's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #3)
  • The Bishop's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #4)
  • The Boy's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #5)
  • The Murderer's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #6)
  • The Prioress' Tale (Sister Frevisse, #7)
  • The Maiden's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #8)
  • The Reeve's Tale (Sister Frevisse #9)
  • The Squire's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #10)
  • The Clerk's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #11)

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