I did not want to put this book away. It’s that simple. My little laptop was my best buddy with this audiobook playing. It accompanied me on all my house chores, while I knitted, even while I showered. I know. I have an addiction, but we aren’t here to talk about that; we are here to talk about this awesome historical book that I requested simply because I knew so little of the time and location. Patricia Bracewell sure does make ancient, dusty, moldering English history riveting, thought-provoking, and worthy of paying attention to.
Emma was so easy to connect with, and so uncomplicated in her desires and motives; yet she was put in this impossible situation where so much was not within her control. Her simple, perhaps even childish, dreams of a loving marriage and safety had to be set aside for bigger considerations. Through it all, she met it with poise and honor. King Athelred, long bedeviled by a sense of guilt over his brother’s death, might finally be loosing it. But in so loosing his wits, he may loose his hold on his kingdom. In his fear and anxiety, he often places unwarranted blame on Emma and forces her into demeaning marital obligations.
Of course, there are also the intrigues and politics of her homeland, Normandy, haunting her. King Ahtelred and her brother, the Duke of Normandy, signed a written agreement that included Normandy no longer provided harbor to the Vikings, who annually ravage the northern coasts of England. Emma is well aware that her brother couldn’t possibly turn away Fork Beard and his horde when they appear in their Viking ships, all bedecked with pointy metal bits, ready to ravage any city or village, English or Norman. This knowledge adds to Emma’s anxiety as she tries to safely navigate the intrigues of the English court.
Katie Firth was the perfect voice for Emma, providing a sensible, yet cultured voice. She also provided a lovely vixen voice for Algiva, an angry, dry voice for Althelred, and numerous aged and young voices for the side characters.