Aug 21, 09
Recommended to Mary by:
My brother, John Campbell
Anglophiles, mystery buffs, readers of hist. fiction
Read in October, 2005, read count: 1
This is the first of twenty Brother Cadfael books. I read them back to back, not wanting to leave the oasis of the Benedictine monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul (an actual place) in Shrewsbury, near the Welsh border; and enjoying the calm, slightly irreverent religiosity of Brother Cadfael himself. Edith Pargeter, writing as "Ellis Peters," has captured England at a time when appositives (Edward, the Carpenter) were evolving into surnames; when the royals, the landowners, and those in authority were Normans (the story is set only a hundred years after the Conquest); when King Stephen and Queen Maud were ravaging the English countryside in their seemingly endless war over the crown.
Unlike most historical novels, the Brother Cadfael books deal primarily with the lowborn -- common laborers, serfs, and artisans and merchants, the latter two accumulating wealth that would eventually allow them to buy their way into the nobility.
These books are, for the most part, comfortable junkets into medieval English households, though each, of course, deals with a murder, which Brother Cadfael unerringly solves.