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Gallows wedding

af Rhona Martin

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
281661,327 (4.75)1
This is the strange, haunting story of two ill-starred lovers, set against the backdrop of the religious upheaval of Henry VIII's time. Hazel, a peasant girl marked by the witches' brand and a dangerous beauty, loves Black John, an outlaw and aristocrat, whom she rescues from the gallows. Together they struggle to survive a world in which brutal death awaits at every corner, and stumble along a fateful collision course towards a harrowing climax. The Historical Novel Prize was founded in memory of Georgette Heyer by Bodley Head and Corgi Books. Rhona Martin's remarkable first novel won the award in 1977, its first year, in competition with 150 entries. Now it has been republished by Mereo Books imprint Romaunce.… (mere)
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Life on the run is never easy: for a woman alone in the reign of Henry VIII, it's almost not sustainable. Hazel the woodcutter's daughter flees her home village at 13, barely escaping being burned as a witch along with her mother. Life after that is full of narrow escapes--she's almost sold into prostitution, gets initiated against her will into a witches' coven, is raped and then assaulted by the rapist's wife--and that's all in the first 100 pages.

It is painfully clear to Hazel that she will not survive without a man to protect her, and so she snags a husband the best way she can--by claiming him from the gallows. She has modest but naive dreams of a settled life with John Pengerran, or Black John, as he is known, but he has different dreams, the pursuit of which dooms them both.

Martin has extensively researched this debut novel but she seamlessly (and subtly) weaves historical fact into her narrative like a master of the genre. Although Hazel falls in love with John, this is not a romance in the usual sense of the term insofar as Martin never strays far from the nasty, brutish realities of the period for the yeoman (or women of any class, for that matter). John is no modern-day sensitive, liberated male in period costume, and Hazel, smart and spunky though she may be, in the end cannot beat the system.

The characters are engaging, the setting vividly imagined, and the pacing is spot-on (except for some long, confusing dream-like sequences). Martin hooks the reader on the first page and her story gathers speed and momentum until the very last, making this book impossible to put down. ( )
  DocWood | Sep 21, 2011 |
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For my daughters
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Their eyes held across the limp figure on the pallet.
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This is the strange, haunting story of two ill-starred lovers, set against the backdrop of the religious upheaval of Henry VIII's time. Hazel, a peasant girl marked by the witches' brand and a dangerous beauty, loves Black John, an outlaw and aristocrat, whom she rescues from the gallows. Together they struggle to survive a world in which brutal death awaits at every corner, and stumble along a fateful collision course towards a harrowing climax. The Historical Novel Prize was founded in memory of Georgette Heyer by Bodley Head and Corgi Books. Rhona Martin's remarkable first novel won the award in 1977, its first year, in competition with 150 entries. Now it has been republished by Mereo Books imprint Romaunce.

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