In Death and the Maiden, set in Norman England, the great love story between healer Adelia Aguilar and Sir Rawley Picot, Bishop of Saint Albans, is finally resolved after years of danger and separation. Henry the Second has died; Eleanor of Aquitaine, Regent to King Richard, is doing what she can to deter her ambitious son, John, from fomenting discord among excitable subjects.
Gyltha, an old friend in Cambridgeshire--more notably England's infamous fens--has fallen deathly ill. Adelia and Rawley are keen to visit Gyltha in Elsford when the healer injures her ankle. To make matters worse, Rawley is called to attend his patron, the formidable Eleanor.
There is only one solution to Gyltha's immediate need: Adelia and Rawley 's daughter, Alli. Trained in the healing arts by her mother, Alli must travel to Elsford with the able Lady Penda to attend the ailing old woman. Rawley has his doubts, concerned that Alli plan for her future. When Penda informs him that there is a potential marital match nearby for his daughter, Lord Peverelle, Raleigh's fears for Alli's future are greatly ameliorated. Not only has Alli been trained by her mother in the healing arts, but she shares a similar attachment to her independence. Adelia's refusal to attach herself to a man, even one as charming and noble as Rawley, has caused frequent separations from her parents over many years. Rawley faced great danger in his quest to finally be united with his beloved, this turbulent chapter of their love affair finally at an end. Alli is only beginning her own adventure.
Gyltha recovers quickly under Alli's dedicated care, though the village is greatly subdued by the shadow of recent troubles. While tales of Crusaders and battles enchant avid listeners around bedtime hearth fires, an unspoken fear hovers, a pall on every gathering: the disappearance of young women, daughters snatched from their families without a trace. With Penda at her side, Alli is determined to solve this mystery, to learn the fate of these hapless girls. Much to her surprise, Alli is unexpectedly distracted from her mission with her first meeting with the dashing Lord Peverelle, who appears equally enamored of the young healer. The budding romance is charming and delightful, Alli never before being exposed to affairs of the heart.
In the tradition of the Mistress of the Art of Death series, Death and the Maiden unfolds on the unique terrain of Norman England, where superstition, ambition and notable medieval events, most recently the Crusades, bring tales of glory but horror as well. Those practicing healing skills are often accused of wielding the dark arts, such outrageous disappearances most often unsolved, the wealthy and entitled in control of the courts, justice unfairly meted to the poor, the accused and the powerless.
Alli steps confidently into her mother's footsteps as Adelia and Rawley dream of their next chapter together, all of it beautifully captured by Samantha Norman. After Ariana Franklin's passing in 2011, the author's daughter picked up her mother's pen to finish the tale of a dramatic love affair. After years watching her mother create the series, author Norman has melded two worlds together, honoring the work-in-progress then bravely stepping into the storyteller's well-worn shoes. Two generations bond through the written word, Samantha Norman completing a beloved series, Alli wrapped in a Adelia's cloak, anticipating her own future as a healer. The transition is flawless, a mother bequeathing a daughter her most precious gift, both in story and in life.