The Linnet
Elizabeth English
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The Linnet

Elizabeth English
368 pages
January 2004
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Cold, callous and selfish – these are the words with which everyone within miles of Aylsford Keep describes Lady Maude, the unmarried daughter of the fierce and brutal Lord Darnley. Only a few remember the sweet and caring girl Maude once was and know the reason why she’s changed. A promise given to his dying mentor, the seer, brings wandering Irishman Ronan Fitzgerald to this keep where he soon makes himself indispensable with his double talents of minstrel and healer. Although at first repulsed by Maude’s cruel past deeds and unfeeling nature, Ronan soon begins to have doubts.

Maude, torn apart by her inner demons, soon finds in Ronan a man of extraordinary sensitivity and understanding. With his help, she reluctantly takes up music again and starts the process of remembering and healing her soul. But she still can’t bring herself to tell Ronan the one vital fact which will make him understand her completely. Meanwhile, the hatred between the Darnley and Kirallen clans, which has claimed countless lives over the years, still simmers in the background, threatening to erupt and break the fragile peace. There are forces in play and intrigues taking place against Maude. Can Ronan and Maude make peace with the past before it's too late?

Elizabeth English’s poignant historical tale is sensitive as well as greatly romantic. Initially Maude appears to be a villainous characters, so cruel are her past deeds. But when the truth about her is revealed, it’s sure to wring the readers’ collective hearts. This clever twist provides very effective suspense. Ronan is also an intriguing character as he’s a jack of many trades – knight, seer, healer, minstrel. But it’s his understanding towards Maude and her suffering, and the primitive but effective psychiatric help he provides to her troubled psyche that makes him a truly great personality. The author has also taken great care to provide an authentic medieval feel to the story in keeping with those times, including local dialect, ballads and strong descriptions of constant warring and raids. All in all, this poignant story is sure to leave a definite impact on the readers’ minds.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Rashmi Srinivas, 2004

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