Book Review: Margaret Frazer’s The Maiden’s Tale

Posted November 30, 2012 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Margaret Frazer’s The Maiden’s Tale

The Maiden's Tale

on August 1, 1998 and has 256 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Eighth in the Sister Frevisse medieval mystery series revolving around Dame Frevisse and her talent for ferreting out the truth. This story takes place in London at her cousin Alice’s home, Coldharbour House.

This takes place after Joliffe’s adventures in Normandy in A Play of Treachery.

My Take

It’s all about politics and love. From the mess Domina Alys made of the priory’s finances to the abbot’s various plans to rescue it to the dangerous dance of courtiers who are looking to get ahead. The love between the doomed couple and the promised. The love for worldly things and the love for power. The love Frevisse has for the silence of God.

I just adore Frazer’s stories. She makes you feel as though you’re there. The smells, the food, the cold. She creates an authentic atmosphere using the culture, mores, style, and killing politics of the time. You will feel as though you are there.

I do love how Jane and William’s romance begins to blossom. It’s also rather fun to ride around London, hearing the old street names and marketplaces.

I don’t understand why Jane doesn’t warn the countess.

Oh, no…naked peacocks!! Horrors…!

The Story

Domina Alys has been dealt with and Abbot Gilberd has decided that Dames Perpetua and Frevisse will accompany him and Lady Adela to London to escort the new Domina back. In the meantime, the abbot wants Frevisse making nice with Alice, her cousin.

Between the fine new habit, undergarments, and shoes Alice has given her and the subterfuge Alice requires of her, Frevisse is feeling quite awkward and uncomfortable. And it only gets worse when there’s murder and attempted assassinations followed by Alice’s illicit love. Worse is Bishop Beaufort insisting on her investigating matters, for nothing is as it seems.

The Characters

Dame Frevisse is an extremely intelligent and devout woman with a passion for knowing. Lady Alice is Frevisse’s cousin and the countess of Suffolk. She’s the smart half of this marriage and she loves all the political intrigue. Lady Jane de la Pole is one of three daughters of the previous Earl of Suffolk, but her mother essentially disowned her and Jane is dependent upon this Suffolk, her uncle, for her future. She is one of Lady Alice’s ladies along with Lady Sibill. She is betrothed to William Chesman, a yeoman in the earl’s service.

Master Bruneau is a Frenchman and the earl’s secretary. He’s brilliant at his job, but recently lost his wife, Jeannette. Eyon Chesman is William’s cousin. Master Hyndstoke is the household doctor. Robyn Helas is a gorgeous but smarmy little git, serving the earl and stabbing the countess and Lady Jane in the back. Herry Elham is a quick-thinking courtier. Master Gallard, the master of ceremonies, appears again.

Abbot Gilberd is in charge of St. Frideswide’s and has judged the sisters, taking charge of their finances, and settling both Domina Alys‘ fate as well as choosing their next prioress, Dame Elisabeth of St. Helen’s Bishopsgate. His sister and she does have a brilliant idea to help restore the priory’s finances. For obviously, none of the sisters are competent enough to choose. Lady Adela‘s fate has also been altered.

His Grace Cardinal Bishop Beaufort is meddling everywhere. The Duke of Gloucester is the enemy. Charles, the Duke of Orleans, has been held hostage in England for the past twenty-some years ever since the Battle at Agincourt. He’s bright and sensitive, pouring his emotions out through his poetry. Gloucester refuses to give him back and the Duke of Burgundy insists there will be no peace without his release. I do feel sorry for the guy. All that he’s lost and will lose. He is such a lovely man. It just made me cry. Jasper and Edmund Tudor from The Boy’s Tale make an appearance. They are the duke of Orleans’ cousins after all.

The Cover and Title

The cover has a gold background with an elaborately framed red-and-gold carved frame creating a rectangular picture of three women cowering inside an arched opening with its open gate where Bishop Beaufort and one of his flunkies are standing as a barge pulls up to the dock on the Thames.

The title references The Maiden’s Tale, for Jane is sadly beset and torn in her loyalties.


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