Book Review: The Fire and the Rose by Robyn Cadwallader

About the Book:

England, 1276: Forced to leave her home village, Eleanor moves to Lincoln to work as a housemaid. She’s prickly, independent and stubborn, her prospects blighted by a port-wine birthmark across her face. Unusually for a woman, she has fine skills with ink and quill, and harbours a secret ambition to work as a scribe, a profession closed to women.

Eleanor discovers that Lincoln is a dangerous place, divided by religious prejudice, the Jews frequently the focus of violence and forced to wear a yellow badge. Eleanor falls in love with Asher, a Jewish spicer, who shares her love of books and words, but their relationship is forbidden by law. When Eleanor is pulled into the dark depths of the church’s machinations against Jews and the king issues an edict expelling all Jews from England, Eleanor and Asher are faced with an impossible choice.

Vivid, rich, deep and sensual, The Fire and the Rose is a tender and moving novel about how language, words and books have the power to change and shape lives. Most powerfully, it is also a novel about what it is to be made ‘other’, to be exiled from home and family. But it is also a call to recognise how much we need the other, the one we do not understand, making it a strikingly resonant and powerfully hopeful novel for our times.

Published by HarperCollins Publishers Australia

Released May 2023

My Thoughts:

Robyn has returned with another brilliant novel of medieval historical fiction. Richly reimagined, this tale set in the latter decades of the 13th century is one of prejudice, hardship, enduring love, and emancipation within a deeply misogynistic and religiously divided society.

I love medieval historical fiction but so much of it is set within the fantasy genre, of which I’m not so much of a fan, so Robyn’s work is highly sought after by me. Her characters were flawed and realistic, and while I never really warmed to Eleanor, I still appreciated her story and character journey.

The writing within this story is divine, particularly the scenes of passion between Eleanor and Asher at the beginning of their love affair. Robyn has a way too of seamlessly weaving memories of the past with the present affairs for her characters, a literary skill that is not to be underestimated.

Highly recommended for historical fiction fans.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s