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The Bishop's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #4)
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The Bishop's Tale

(Sister Frevisse #4)

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,140 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Prime crime from the Edgar-nominated author of The Servant's Tale. In London to mourn the passing of her uncle, Sister Frevisse is taken aback when a scoundrel at the funeral dares God to strike him down--and he summarily collapses and dies. Bishop Beaufort prevails upon the Sister for help in solving the baffling case.
Paperback, 208 pages
Published December 1st 1994 by Berkley
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4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,140 ratings  ·  47 reviews

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Kilian Metcalf
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
I love Margaret Frazer's stories and was saddened by her death this years. In her honor, I am rereading my way through her work, beginning with the Dame Frevisse novels, followed by the Joliffe the Player novels. She has a gift for blending together history and fiction into compelling stories of the lives of real people. If Dame Frevisse is a reflection of Frazer, then the writer was a keen observer of human nature. Dame Frevisse engages us as we journey with her through her life of conflict as ...more
Kathy Davie
Jul 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, mystery
Fourth in the Sister Frevisse medieval mystery series revolving around a very intelligent nun.

"Best Novel" nomination at the 1995 Minnesota Book Awards

My Take
It's odd but I can't believe it's only been four stories. I feel as though I've known Dame Frevisse forever. Frazer has done an amazing amount of research on the time period for she sets the time period for us beautifully. From furniture to clothes, manners to law, travel to architecture, Frazer takes you back to that era.

This one is inter
Karen Brooks
Nov 20, 2012 rated it liked it
This is the second Sister Frevisse book I've read in Margaret Frazer's award winning series and, for the most part, it was a very good read.

In this book, Sister Frevisse leaves the nunnery to attend to her Aunt in the wake of her beloved Uncle Thomas' death. While at the feast for all those attending the funeral, Sister Frevisse witnesses (along with many others) a rather unpleasant character fall ill in rather dramatic circumstances. What follows has physicians and priests wondering: did God h
Dempse Kb
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Now that I've warmed up to the series, it was nice to see Sister Frevisse outside the convent for once. I enjoyed the description of outlaw life, and middle class freeman life. It's nice to read a book that sweeps you along and gives a few possible motives and potential villains. An entertaining read, a surprise ending and looking forward to the next book!
Logophile (Heather)
Apr 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Sister Frevisse is a nun in the 15th century so the story is all medieval-y, and she solves mysteries.
Seemed well-researched and well-written. It's a nice, sedate read.
Diane K.
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found this a very interesting plot. The means of murder was quite clever, and, for its time, must have been quite extraordinary. I was saddened at the loss of Dame Frevisse's uncle and dearest friend, but we're introduced to her cousin Alice, who becomes a strong recurring character in later works. Not to mention the bishop, who, despite also being a good friend of Thomas Chaucer, and a very clever, insightful man, just somehow irritates Frevisse, although she is properly obedient to his wishe ...more
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Certainly a mystery series that doesn't overreach vis-à-vis drama; but of course the main character is a nun, so there's an understandable limitation in that regards. Sister Frevisse is clever and shows off her cleverness here, although even then it wasn't a stretch to figure this one out. The one noteworthy plot point, to me, is that the Bishop of the title is Bishop Henry Beaufort, the second son of John of Gaunt (Duke of Lancaster) and his mistress, and later wife, Katherine Swynford, she of ...more
Laura Edwards
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book really started out with a bang. Such an interesting premise. Did Sir Clement die by the hand of God or was he murdered? However, a little over halfway through, the pace bogged down a bit.

I'll miss the witty and affectionate repartee between Frevisse and Thomas Chaucer.

I do like reading about a character who is confident in her faith, yet still undergoes her personal struggles. I also like that the reader shares Dame Frevisse's spiritual journey as well as other aspects of her life. T
Andrew Doohan
Another good yarn from Margaret Frazer that this times see Dame Frevisse, and her companion, outside the walls of her Benedictine house to attend a family funeral, and all that comes with it.

It is there that Frevisse gets drawn into the kind of intrigue and mystery that is at the heart of this series.

Aside from being a good story, and an intriguing mystery, I also appreciate the way in which Frazer attempts to capture something of the society of the day, and its complexity, while weaving her sto
Carol Flatten
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have enjoyed all seven of Frazer's Sister Frevisse mysteries. Each one is unique and each one develops the characters of the nunnery a bit more. In the Bishop's tale, we meet the bishop who will play a part in later stories, plus Frevisse's cousin Alice. The story takes place at the estate of her uncle, who has died and Frevisse is there as a family member. Of course, there is a mysterious death, which in the story she finds is a well planned murder. In this story, as in the others, the food a ...more
Jun 13, 2018 rated it liked it
I think this is showing a good improvement in Sister Frevisse's mysteries. The mystery was less convoluted (possibly too little, I definitely saw part of it coming long before she did) and her involvement made more sense. I'm looking forward to seeing if the next few books continue as positively as this one did.
Oct 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Sister Frevisse haas received word at St. Frideswide's that her uncle, Thomas Chaucer, son Geoffrey, is gravely ill and wishes to see her before he dies. She is given permission to travel to Ewelme, the family estate where she was raised, with Sister Perpetua as her travelling companion and two outriders. When they arrive, they learn that Thomas Chaucer has already passed. However, he has left her a bequest outside his will, given to her by Bishop Beaufort, a close friend of her uncle for many y ...more
Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-read
Another wonderful mystery with Sister Frevisse at the center!
This one revolves around the death of her beloved Uncle Thomas. While attending to her aunt and the funeral events, another man, one disliked by virtually everyone who knew him, is struck dead in front of all the visitors during the funeral feast. Naturally, Sr. Frevisse is asked to look into the situation and determine if the man was struck down by God or man.

The Sister Frevisse mysteries, while obviously set in a completely different
Jill Holmes
Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This fourth novel in Margaret Frazer's series centering on Dame Frevisse, a Benedictine nun, has both personal and global aspects for Frevisse. She has hastened (in the early winter of 1434)to the village of Ewelme to her Uncle Thomas Chaucer's manor hoping to be in time to spend his final hours with him. She is too late. It makes a dreadful loss even worse; Thomas had cared for her growing up, introduced her to books, and been a dear friend in adulthood. She is less close to her nattering Aunt ...more
Apr 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dennis Fischman
Sep 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
What I admire about this series is that Dame Frevisse is a brilliant woman with a real personality, full of quirks and weaknesses as well as strengths. She's committed herself to the convent, but that doesn't make her Sister Thomasine, saintly and never in doubt. She sees people too well, and that includes herself. In that respect, she's a character modern people can understand. But her issues are issues of her time and place, never 20th-century issues in medieval garb.

I thought I was going to s
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's the first book I've read in this series because it's a pretty hard-to-come-by book series in my local libraries - the edition is rather old in France and it isn't as famous as others like Brother Cadfael or Sister Fidelma, which got new editions here.

It's a very pleasant read for anyone who enjoyed medieval mysteries such as the aforementioned Brother Cadfael and Sister Fidelma books. Books should be read in order though, if you have the chance.
The writing and pacing were seamless, the ch
Aug 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Dame Frevisse books concerned with the intrigues associated with the reign of King Henry VI are generally much more gripping than the others, and this one was no exception. Introducing properly the Beaufort clan, who are at the heart of much of the path to the War of the Roses, this book also gets bonus points for including a Wycliff Bible reference (and a theological rebel side to Frevisse we sadly never see again).
Carole Moran
Dec 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Margaret Frazer writes a series of murder mysteries set in the fifteenth century in England. All, thus far, have been good reads, but this book and a couple of others include much of England's actual history and introduces actual characters involved in England's behind-the-scenes politics. The relationships among the characters are also mentioned and utilized to enhance the story. For history buffs who want some light reading, this series has much to offer.
Mar 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Dame Frevisse receives word that her beloved Uncle has died. She returns home and during the funeral meal, Sir Clement (a man detested by all) challenges God to strike him down if he is wrong. And well, he has an attack and dies. The Bishop wants to be certain it was God and not man who killed him. Sister Frevisse asks questions and finds it WAS man's work after all.

I love the historical detail in this series.
Mar 26, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Medieval Nerds
This is definitely not great. I had so much high hopes for this book because of all the rave reviews, about "surprising psychology twists, and to "transport back to the 14th century". Well, maybe it did transported me to the 14th century, and it's not such a hot time to be around. The twist is not that shocking either. I hate Sister Frevisse citing those quotes. It's really annoying. I can go on and on. The ending is, thankfully, a bit better. Maybe the Medieval stuffs are not just my type.
Sandra Strange
Mar 07, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a superior medieval series, each novel set in a specific time period, often with action concerning the political doings of the time. Each novel also explores the world of the particular tale, in this case, the world of the Church with all of its political intriguing. The nun-protagonist is set by her bishop to wade into a tricky political/social murder mystery.
May 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Uncle Chaucer is dead and at the funeral shenanigans ensue. Upon his deathbed, Chaucer commends Frevisse to his cousin the Bishop. When a nasty old man who just challenged God to strike him dead is in fact struck dead, the Bishop commands Frevisse investigate. A sad tale really, but the Bishop is an interesting character. Did not like the ending because I really felt for the bad guy.
Oct 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
The first half to two thirds of the book dragged (I would give that section a "one star rating") and it picked up somewhat over the last third. Overall, not very interesting. I read the first book in the series two and a half years ago and was unimpressed. I recently decided to try the series again, but mow I remember why I dropped it in the first place. I doubt that I will continue.
Katie Bee
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-books-read
I enjoyed the solution to this mystery, which isn't exactly anachronistic but has a common element of today's world appearing to great bafflement in Dame Frevisse's. I was also glad to see that the repercussions of her actions in The Servant's Tale and the Outlaw's Tale were not shrugged off, but continue to affect her development as a character.
William Bradford
Apr 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of the earlier books in this excellent series. Lots of character development set among a well written story that keeps you guessing until the end. As with the other books, great attention to historical detail is one of the most enjoyable things. This books has as a central theme Frevisse meeting with Bishop Beaufort and the interplay between the two is most interesting.
I’ve read all of Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael tales, and this series is much the same idea. The revelations are not as obscure as Peters’, leaving me with a much larger sense of satisfaction when Frazer reveals “whodunit.” I was especially pleased to see Robert Fenner, Sir Walter’s man, again.
Dec 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-fun, 2011
Probably the strongest entry in this series so far...though I found the murder weapon to be a bit on the ridiculous side, given in what time period this book is set. However, the characterization was strong, and it was nice to see characters from the previous books making a reappearance.
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I will never tire of Dame Frevisse mysteries. This is another good one. History, mystery, excellent setting and characters - none too good nor too bad, with lots of discussion of mortality and morality, as seen through the eyes of a medieval nun.
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This story takes place at the home of Thomas Chaucer, Frevisse's uncle, at the time of his death. Cardinal Bishop Beaufort, friend and cousin of Chaucer, is a main character in this story (and he appears in other books in this series).
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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

Other books in the series

Sister Frevisse (1 - 10 of 17 books)
  • The Novice's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #1)
  • The Servant's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #2)
  • The Outlaw's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #3)
  • 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)