Love is for women who have choices. She has none.
In eleventh-century France on the eve of the First Crusade, Isabel de Vermandois becomes the wife of a man old enough to be her father. He is Robert de Beaumont, Comte de Meulan. A hero of the Norman victory at Hastings and loyal counselor to successive English kings, Robert is not all Isabel had expected. Cruel and kind by contrast, he draws her into the decadent court of King Henry I. As Robert's secrets are unraveled, Isabel finds her heart divided. Her duties as a wife and mother compel her, but an undeniable attraction to the young William de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, tempts her. In a kingdom where love holds no sway over marital relations, Isabel must choose where her loyalties and her heart lie.
Based on the life of a remarkable medieval woman forgotten by time, The Burning Candle is a story of duty and honor, love and betrayal.
This is the first book that I’ve read by Lisa J. Yarde, and I was pleasantly surprised by it. I think that the author really did justice to this time period. The characters at times come across as ‘cold’, but that’s part of the reason I believe the novel felt ‘real’ to me. People during the Middle Ages aren’t really thought of as being exceptionally loving or soft. So many children died young, and marriages between royal and/or wealthy people were often arranged, so in order to survive I believe the people had to be a little ‘cold’.
I really enjoyed reading Isabel’s story as she grew from an abused child to a moderately happy woman. Part of the reason I enjoy historical fiction, is the fact that I am able to get a feel for how this real person, from history, may have actually felt or acted. I think that the way Isabel’s character is described is perfect. She is a strong woman, and though as a reader you may dislike her at times, you also are able to relate to her, because she’s not perfect. I really enjoyed reading about the relationship between her and her husband, Robert de Beaumont, who she was contracted to marry at such a young age. I feel it clearly showed the true dynamic of many royal medieval marriages. The author obviously uses her creative license, but it definitely helped to make the story more interesting. And, Thorold’s character was the perfect villain! His twisted influence in the story definitely helped to add to the suspense.
The thing that truly makes a historical fiction novel great for me is the addition of a love story, and the love story in this novel is amazing. As a reader, you are able to see the hardships that Isabel has suffered all of her life, and I think the love story helps to lighten the book up a little and to give the reader a little hope. I was completely caught up Isabel’s story, and the fact that the novel is based on actual historical figures and situations, makes it that much more interesting as a reader.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction from the medieval time period. I read it in two days, and had trouble putting it down. I love reading novels based on actual historical figures, especially people like Isabel, who led such fascinating lives. The only issue I had with this novel is the grammatical errors. The book definitely needs to be proof read again, because it’s frustrating to be reading an amazing book, only to keep coming across spelling/grammar errors.
I give this novel five out of five stars.