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Child of the Phoenix by Barbara Erskine

Posted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 6:11 pm
by Ellen Gethin
"Who the heck is Princess Eleyne?" I wondered, when I picked this book up at a table sale.
I knew who Barbara Erskine was - her Lady of Hay is practically required reading for anyone who comes to live in Hay-on-Wye. Generally she does a sort of time slip with her characters, but this seemed to be a straight historical - and Princess Eleyne turns out to be the seventh child of Prince Llewelyn the Great of Gwynnedd, a prince and a period I have a keen interest in.
So it was fascinating to find out that he had links with Scottish nobility through Eleyne's marriage to John the Scot, Earl of Huntingdon and later Earl of Chester.
Being a Barbara Erskine novel, she has to saddle her heroine with the Sight (at one point she has a vision of Mary Queen of Scots, far in her future and seemingly one of her descendants). I suppose this draws in the readers who are more interested in a good yarn and less interested in the intricacies of the real history.
It's also fascinating to see the family relationships - the Queen of Scotland, Joanna, is half-sister to Eleyne's mother, Princess Joan of Gwynnedd, and Henry III of England is their brother - to give but one of many examples. At one point, Eleyne (who has just become Lady Chester after being the Countess of Huntingdon) says, "Do I know Lady Clifford?" only to find that Lady Clifford is one of her older sisters who has recently re-married!
For anyone with an interest in Welsh history, it's well worth a read.

I must re-read Here Be Dragons by Sharon Penman and see if Eleyne and her sisters get much of a mention.

Posted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 8:40 pm
by Miss Costello
Blimey, there's a blast from the past! I love Barbara Erskines books as a good escape! Time travel and history-hurrah!

Posted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 8:07 pm
by Ellen Gethin
No time travel in this one, unusually, but I think she claims Eleyne as one of her ancestors.