4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2012
Writing a historical novel, a true historical novel, (not a historical romance, which is a different and probably more profitable genre) is a major task. I am on my third (First Marie and the Queen of Scots;[...] Last Knight and the Queen of Scots), this one called The Midwife's Secret. It evolves out of a controversial incident reported by Claud Nau, secretary to the Queen of Scots during her captivity in England. A principal character in the novel is a Benedictine abbess, known to her community at Saint Pierre les Dames in Rheims as La Belle Ecossaise, The Beautiful Scot. Even her eulogist conceded in 1639 that her origin and early life was cloaked in mystery. Her name was Marguerite de'Kircaldie and she was rumored to be the daughter or perhaps the wife of the celebrated Knight of Grange, Sir William Kirkcaldy. (The LAST KNIGHT, coming soon in Kindle books) The problem is that what is known of Kirkcaldy's history does not fit that theory. This introduces a genuine mystery too compelling to overlook, but hard to write unless one has a background in 16th and early 17th century female French monasticism. I do not. I am neither a religious scholar nor a Catholic. The nuns I have known well were Episcopal. But in the pages of Medieval Christianity is the very ritual, the scene, the setting and the dialog with which I was struggling when I discovered the book. But this publication has even more to offer. After a brief "Look Inside" excursion, I saw that this was something I needed in my Kindle library and I will very likely also purchase the hard copy. One would expect quality scholarship in a component of the Princeton Readings in Religion series, and this most assuredly is one. The selections are a masterwork in editing, the notes are complete, and the recommended reading lists will keep me busy for a very long time. The segments are compelling, and whether I ever use any of the other chapters in my writing, I am reading them, studying them and pondering them, because they enrich my understanding not just of medieval Christianity, but the evolution of western thought. A fine book.