*RC copy provided via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*
Henceforth I’m going to tag as Underrated Book Pleasures those books that, despite their amazingness have serious low ratings on GR.
England. 1069 A.D.
In the years following the Norman conquest, the English are left seething under the yoke of foreign rule.
All hope seems lost — until Hereward Leofricsson returns to reclaim his birthright, after earning the nickname ‘Hereward the Wake’ for his success fighting in the East.
His fierce resolve, military cunning and gallant manner soon attract a dogged band of English freedom fighters, who are determined to recover their country or die in the attempt.
But Hereward finds himself torn between his bitter hatred of the Norman conquerors and his love for Althya, a Norman noblewoman who proves herself to be just as resourceful, loyal and strong as he is.
Hereward’s love for Althya also earns him a very dangerous enemy in the form of the sadistic Guy de Lussac, who is determined to marry Althya to settle an old score with her father.
A rapid-fire thriller.
– The New York Times –
Let it be known that I will be going to hunt down Hebe Weenolsen’s work on my every trip to fleemarkets. I’ll be travelling a bit in the summer so I will be taking my quest internationally. I will find those old editions, crack the used spines open and stick my nose into the yellowed pages and inhale that heavenly scent that belongs exclusively to well-worn books.
And, obviously, I will buy them.
Because if the rest of her work is anything like The Last Englishman, meaning a hidden gem of literature that will take you back to times long past with it’s ensnaring plot and writing style of old, it will be worth the “sacrifice” of going through those piles of old stuff.
Mingling myth and reality, adventures and romance, this book is indeed “a stirring tale of bravery in the face of overwhelming odds… brimming with ancient magic as well as rigorous historical detail.” and I am immensly glad to have gotten the chance of reading this little known masterpiece of historical fiction thanks to modern technology and spreading the word about it.
I’ll also issue a recommendation, which is a fairly obvious one that doesn’t need cementing with reasons: read it!
Old books about old things are the best and Hebe Weenolsen wrote this one in such an exquisite, intriguing manner you can feel yourselves be transported back in time and experiencing this adventure alongside Hereward and Althya.
If there’s one thing that history teaches us again and again, regardless of period and country, it’s the fact that we are all hypocrits. Why? Well, see, with reference to The Last Englishman but as an example to the broader context, Normans invaded England, conquering it and subdueing the English. Later on the English went and did the same with 1) the Irish, 2) the Scottish, 3) all their colonies, forgetting that they felt violated by the foreign dominion, yet inflicting the same humiliation again and again.