Monday, February 9, 2009

"There was so much noise in the market-place, such a hubbub of shouting and chaffering ..."

The subtitle of Georgette Heyer's The Conqueror is "A Novel of William the Conqueror, the Bastard Son Who Overpowered a Kingdom and the Woman Who Melted His Heart". Somehow, that title, as long as it is, doesn't do this book justice. Heyer has written an excellent historical fiction that brings alive a time period that I didn't know much about before reading this book.

At the heart of the story is the political unrest in Western Europe almost 1000 years ago. This book briefly tells of William's birth but this is essentially the story from a point during his tenure as Duke of Normandy (1047) to the Battle of Hastings where he defeats Earl Harold Godwinson to become the conqueror King of England (1066) which he ruled for almost 21 years. This was a short time period in which to become a very powerful man -- he was 38 when was declared King. The story also includes his marriage to Matilda of Flanders and some of the doings of his children.

I like this type of book because, assuming a certain level of fictionalizing of events to make for a better story, I am always inspired to do some research after the book to see what was true and what facts were embellished. While Heyer's main character, Raoul de Harcourt, appears to be fictional, her depiction of William and of the political strife of the time seems quite accurate.

While this book wasn't a page-turner, it definitely held my interest and was well-written. I wouldn't mind reading another historical fiction about William the Conqueror in the near future to get another perspective on this amazing man. Heyer continues to amaze me with the versatility of her writing through different genres. I would love to read one of her mysteries next.

Finally understanding the difference between Normans and Saxons,

Buy The Conqueror on Amazon or find it at your local library.


  1. I have this on the TBR shelf, so I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    (and re: your Coraline post, I really want to go, but my sister and three-year-old niece are in town, and we think she's too young for it. But we'll just have to talk grandma into babysitting!)

  2. I really enjoy Georgette Heyer--she's my go to woman when I want to read Jane Austen-esque, but don't want to re-read a book I've already read.