Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"The Passionate Brood" by Margaret Campbell Barnes

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I have to admit to enjoying each book that I have read of Margaret Campbell Barne's. "The Passionate Brood" is a reprint - another excellent reprint by Sourcebooks Landmark - and I am so pleased that they did bring this excellent novel back! This book was first published in 1944 under the original title  of "Like Us They Lived". To my way of thinking this is, more or less, true - the more things change the more they (and we ) stay the same. There have been many reprints lately that have stirred up memories of the books I grew up hiding under the covers with a flash light as a child. to read later into the night that officially allowed (yes, I am truly very myopic to this day!)  My love and passion for this particular time period were originally written in the 40's and 50's. This book concentrates on the time frame of 1189-1199 when the Crusades were in full swing and many knights and men of means  left for long periods of time fight in the lands of  Outremer- thus the strong women they left behind were, in effect, the rulers of their husbands lands in many cases.

This particular book recounts the friendship of King Richard the Lionheart  and, one is lead to believe,  his boyhood friend Robin (later to become the Robin Hood of so many legends). The book is introduced as a novel of King Richard and Robin and yet Robin's strongest appearances in the book are at the beginning - and at the end of the book. Perhaps this is the true way it all went - the case in point does not make it a totally implausible theory even though the reality of Robin Hood, to my knowledge, had never been proven. I like the way Robin is presented in this book and it makes for a certain conceivability that I believe is lacking in some other historical novels that bring Robin into their pictures.

2010 is, I think, the year of Eleanor - Eleanor of Aquitaine - because there have been so many excellent title released that have been written about with this powerful and enigmatic woman. "The Passionate Brood" also brings Eleanor into the picture as a strong, powerful and capable female heroine,and we are also introduced to Eleanor's daughter Johanna (Richard's beloved sister) and Richard's wife, Berengaria of Navarre. Filled with the ruthlessness that was Richard's style during his sojourn in the 3rd crusade and his dispassionate murder of thousands of Saracens this book teams with the passion of the birth of the British Isles. Indeed, I think it can easily be construed that the history of Richard The Lionheart and the beginning of England history are as intertwined as can possibly be. 

The Plantagenets have always been a personal favorite family of mine - as far as British history goes - and I think Ms. Barne's did an able job of conveying the ruthlessness of times and the sometimes greatness of Richard the Lionheart. Although Robin Hood seems to play a very secondary role in this book I think the role that he was given is pivotal to an understanding of Richard and his personality. As I mentioned, although it has never been proven there is much conjecture that Robin Hood was at some point in Richard's life a friend - and from that point of view I think the books clearly reads well for the part Robin might have had in the destiny of Britain.

Yes, I am a huge fan of Margaret Campbell Barnes - and yes, I think you should buy and read this excellent novel.  I doubt you would regret it one bit !

Please note: this book was provided to me by the publisher for the purpose of an honest review. No other remuneration was received

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