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Fortune's Wheel

(The Meonbridge Chronicles #1)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  230 ratings  ·  52 reviews
How do you recover when half your neighbours are dead from history’s cruellest plague?
June 1349. In Meonbridge, a Hampshire manor, the worst plague in England’s history has wiped out half its population, among them Alice atte Wode’s husband and Eleanor Titherige’s entire family. Even the household of the manor’s lord and his wife, Margaret de Bohun, have not escaped the ho
Paperback, 270 pages
Published November 7th 2016 by SilverWood Books
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Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was intrigued by the sound of this book, as I remember learning about the plague while I was at primary school and was fascinated by it. I remember decorating oranges with cloves, as they were used to disguise the smell of death in the streets and houses. I honestly cannot imagine how awful it must have been to be alive during that time. That’s if you stayed alive, of course. It must have been truly horrific!

Set during a time when the plague wiped out entire families, this book was somewhat em
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Carolyn Hughes has chosen to set Fortune’s Wheel, the first in her Meonbridge Chronicles series, in the aftermath of The Black Death (referred to by the villagers as the ‘mortality’). This is a time of terrible bereavement – husbands have lost wives, wives have lost husbands, couples have lost children, children have been orphaned and, in some tragic cases, whole families have perished. Fields lie untended, cottages lie empty and the surviving villagers face straitened times and an uncertain fut ...more
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
The worst plague in England’s history has decimated the population, its wrath knowing no difference between the wealthy, the poor, the powerful or the weak. Like so many of her neighbors, Alice atte Wode has lost her husband and eldest son to the “mortality.” Unlike her neighbors, just days before the plague her daughter mysteriously disappeared and Alice is determined to find her or at least find the answers to where she went.

As the villagers struggle to rebuild their lives after the plague ha
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Historical fiction at it's best! This was a very enjoyable read and very well written. The author certainly knew her subject and had obviously spent a great deal of time in researching. It's just a shame when i came to the the last page. This is a book that i would quite happily read again one day, but meanwhile i intend to read Carolyn Hughes next book is this excellent saga, 'A Woman's Lot (The Meonbridge Chronicles 2).

I do highly recommend 'Fortune's Wheel'.

My thanks to Netgalley and the Pub
Rosie Amber
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fortune’s Wheel is a historical novel set in Hampshire in 1349. I chose to read this because Hampshire is my county, so I was delighted that many of the place names were familiar. The story revolves around a year in the life of the villagers of Meonbridge.

So what was life like in 1349? Bubonic plague had just swept through Britain, and Meonbridge lost at least half of its residents. The village was overseen by Lord and Lady de Bohun of the manor, who owned lands rented to tenants. I was very int
During the Medieval period the plague went by several names, the most common being "the Pestilence" and "The Great Mortality". Theories about the cause of the disease were numerous, ranging from a punishment from God to planetary alignment to evil stares. Not surprisingly, many people believed that the horrors of the Black Death signalled the Apocalypse, or end of time.

This then is the backdrop of Carolyn Hughes' "Fortune's Wheel", the first in a series set in a fictional town of Meonbridge in
Vinaya Raghavan
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-favorites
June 19 is observed as Reading Day in Kerala, the little south Indian state where I come from. What could be a better day than today to comment on a beautiful book I finished finally. Reading Fortune's Wheel has been a beautiful journey into the lives of a community who stayed strong with immense willpower against one of the biggest natural calamity that affected Europe. I was greatly touched and inspired by the women characters in the book, who broke the norms, decided for themselves, stood up ...more
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
The story of a Hampshire village shortly after the Plague has finished decimating the population. The Lord of the Manor is much troubled by the unrest among the working classes who, realising that there are now considerably fewer of them to carry on with all the essential work, start to push for higher wages and better conditions. Naturally this upsets the very few powerful men in the village who run things. However, the heart of this important tale, are the women, supposedly firmly under the th ...more
J.B (Debbie)
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
As I was reading this book I could simply not get my head around the fact that this is Carolyn Hughes first published novel. Its exceptionally well written and is an astoundingly well researched book. I initially found it difficult to get my head around the huge cast of characters but helpfully Carolyn had provided a list of all the important characters at the beginning of the novel and I soon acquainted myself with them all. Although the novel doesn't race along at breakneck speed, it is at a ...more
Mary Yarde
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

“The world is divided into three estates: the rulers, the prayers and the labourers. In this world each man knows his place and obeys God’s Commandments.”

But that was before God sent down a pestilence upon his people. A pestilence that did not differentiate between the righteous and the sinners. It was before the absolute desecration of the populous.

The Angel of Death had done his worst, and he had moved on. For Alice atte Wode, she would have to learn to live without her beloved husband and son
ChillwithabookAWARD With
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fortune's Wheel had been honoured with a Chill with a Book Readers' Award.
John Petro
Rather slow. Almost put it down. Too many irrelevant characters to remember. Getting better but not great. Finished the book last night. If this was her first novel, nice job! I enjoyed the time period, setting, etc. There were several plot lines which were thinly played out. I am still on the fence as to recommending. An easy read. I would grade the book, 'B'. Something about the book tells me to continue with the 2nd book in the series. Maybe!
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found this quite hard going at first with many characters and rather confusing but, stuck with it and found it a very enjoyable historical novel with lots going on.
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a little while to get into this book. But once I did, I was fully immersed. I became a member of the community and mourned with them as the death toll rose and new tragedy befell the community. I rejoiced with them when the tides seemed to turn. And most of all, I was really bummed when I reached the last page.
May 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Carolyn Hughes first book is a historical fiction focusing on the small village of Meonbridge in aftermath of the plague in England. There are too few people to do all of the work and those who are left feel that they should get higher wages for their labor. Of course the ruling class sees no reason to bow to the wishes of the working class.

Hughes focuses particularly on the women and how strong they are during difficult circumstances. A primary character, Alice, has lost her husband Philip and
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Almost from the very first page, it is clear to see that Meonbridge, this little village we’re visiting, tucked away as it is in the rural heartland of medieval Hampshire, is a place of contradictions.
The mill, the essential, ever-beating heart of the village, the place where folk take the chance to exchange news and to gossip with old friends while they wait for their grain to be transformed by the massive stones into flour for their daily bread, seems as busy as it ever has been – and yet it i
Alan Hamilton
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it
So, was this ‘Merrie England’?
‘An everyday story of country folk’. No, not Ambridge but Meonbridge. And not in recent times either, but in the middle of the fourteenth century. A tale covering a single year; one of twists and turns. The Black Death has recently passed over the village reaping a harvest of dead adults, children, and infants; tearing holes in the fabric of village life, as well, of course, as causing holes in the ground – so many the old churchyard cannot take them all.
There’s a t
The Cats’ Mother
Fortune’s Wheel is an English historical fiction novel set in the middle of the 14th century, during the reign of Edward III, a period I know little about since most of the HF I’ve read centres on the Wars of the Roses and the Tudor period. Unusually, this is not about the royals, battles and court politics, but instead describes six months in the lives of the inhabitants of a small village in Hampshire, Meonbridge.

Bubonic plague, known as The Mortality, has halved the village population, taking
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Carolyn Hughes - Fortune´s Wheel
The well-researched historical novel is set in the fictional village of Meonbridge (Hampshire) in the 14th century, in the aftermath of the plague, referred to as „the mortality“ by the villagers, half of whom have perished.
Sir Richard de Bohun, lord of the manor, faces a serious problem, as there arent´t enough villagers left to work on his lands. The surviving villagers see the chance to make use of the lack in peasants by asking für higher wages. Sir Richard is
Laura Henderson
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is probably in my TOP 5 favorite books this year. I requested this book from NetGalley for review as I was already fascinated by its description. There is a lot of good I want to comment on about this book so lets start with the front of it.

To start with I was intrigued by the cover as you can see it is several people making up a wheel to a ship. The characters on the front all see vastly different and you can already tell that there is going to be many different types of characters to this
Wendy Steele
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It’s 1349. The Black Death has halved the population of Meonbridge so the ‘cast’ of this story are the family members left behind, forced to adapt to the broken world they now live in.

The village adjusts to the new order of things. Eleanor, in her late teens, without parents and her fourteen year old step brother her only surviving kin, decides to expand her sheep onto more of her land with the help of her shepherd. The cottars, tenants without land of their own, are getting wise to their worth,
May 25, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book, enough that I might read its sequel, but it has weaknesses. What I liked are its rich details of medieval life. The village, the characters, and their concerns felt real to me. The novel also has strong characters, particularly the women. It turned out to be a fast read, but only after a slow start.

It starts slowly because many names are tossed out as the author establishes the background. We're introduced to a host of characters in the early chapters, many of whom have died i
Ponder the Page
The Black Death has just swept through Meonbridge, England leaving devastation in its wake; despair of losing loved ones, labor disputes and shortages, feuds between families, murders, missing people and an oppressive church telling them it's their fault. There is not one aspect of life that wasn't affected by this devastating event. Fortune’s Wheel by Carolyn Hughes explores the aftermath of the Black Death in Meonbridge and how the survivors try to get back to normal life.

It was refreshing to
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Ever read a book and sit there & try to decide where the story actually starts and where the story actually is? For me this was that type of book. I wanted to enjoy this book, it is set in the right time frame, the author knew what she was writing about, but I could not get into the story. It was bad enough I dropped it mid way through the book and read another two books before remembering that I forgot to finish this one. In all honesty, the story line was quite boring to me and hard to get int ...more
Jun 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I received an advanced reading copy from BooksGoSocial and Carolyn Hughes via NetGalley. Thanks!

Last month I read an historical mystery novel called The Thieftaker's Trek. I enjoyed the story, but the historic elements were not as successful. The characters did not feel as if they had been born in a world with different beliefs and mores, but instead as if my neighbor or coworker was transported to the past.

Reading Fortune’s Wheel felt like the mirror image of the previous book. Set in fourteen
Andrea Stoeckel
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
“It was hard to understand where God’s love was in all this desolation...”

So many tenets had died in Meonbridge with the Plague, that the entire town is different. There are those who want to keep the status quo, and those who want more. Was the mortality- as the people call it, G-d’s wrath? If so, why didn’t “the sinners” die and the good people, especially the children, succumb?

Every family was affected in the Village, either by illness or it’s aftermath. What happens now?

The problem with thi
Jeanette Ford
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a delightful book! For some reason, I’m always a bit apprehensive when I start to read an historical novel because I can’t always cope with strategic plots involving kings and earls and knights of the realm and so on, especially when I know they are taken from real life. Also, I don’t want every book I read to be full of wars and bloodshed, again, especially when I know it is real history.
There was none of that in this book. Set in the time just after the Great Plague, or ‘Mortality’ as it’
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is set in 1349 in the aftermath of a plague. I love historical fiction and obviously the setting holds some interest now! The book was... just okay. It's an interesting time that I've not read a lot about and the author has included many details to make the setting come alive, but I found the writing very passive. Most conversations were just summarised ("they discussed what they should do about x") and it felt a bit like I was reading an early outline in places. I found it hard to con ...more
Jun 01, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a really interesting book - it's meant to be a historical crime novel, set in a village a few months after the devastation of the plague, but actually it works much better as a novel showing how the village recovers slowly from the disaster. It has a fairly gentle pace and good characters - I found the actual crime a bit forgettable, but the small stories of widows remarrying, harvest recovery and angry workers wanting more pay were the really striking bits of the book. Would be a great ...more
Catherine Meyrick
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, 2018
When discussing the aftermath of the Black Death, many general history books mention that it was an historical turning point which ultimately brought about the demise of the feudal system. With possibly up to 60% of the population of Europe dead from plague, labourers were in short supply and despite laws intended to freeze wages at pre-plague levels, they were able to win, over time, not only higher wages and better conditions but freedom from feudal obligations. This is history presented as a ...more
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Carolyn Hughes was born in London, but has lived most of her life in Hampshire. After a first degree in Classics and English, she started her working life as a computer programmer, in those days a very new profession. It was fun for a few years, but she left to become a school careers officer in Dorset.

But it was when she discovered technical authoring that she knew she had found her vocation. She

Other books in the series

The Meonbridge Chronicles (3 books)
  • A Woman's Lot: The Second Meonbridge Chronicle (The Meonbridge Chronicles Book 2)
  • De Bohun's Destiny (The Meonbridge Chronicles, #3)

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