I confess, historical romance novels are a guilty pleasure of mine.
As a history graduate, I find it hard to enjoy books that stray too far from historical truth but I am not afraid to admit that I do get silly over a good romp with brave knights, strong ladies and nasty villains.
Elizabeth Chadwick’s books are a personal favourite of mine. Chadwick validates the entire genre as she can write not only delightfully blithe love stories but bases them in a solidly described and researched Middle Ages.
The Wild Hunt was Elizabeth Chadwick’s debut novel and won her the 1990 Betty Trask Award. Perhaps it has less depth than some of her later novels, which move to deal with well-known historical characters and themes, but it is a thoroughly enjoyable narrative nonetheless.
Set in the atmospheric Welsh Marches during the tremulous reign of William Rufus, it follows the lives of young heiress Judith and noble lord Guyon who are forced to marry to save the young noble’s threatened lands.
It features a feisty, young heroine and a confident, attractive Lord. Supporting characters are named and properly realised, making the world one you can properly get involved in and care about.
The political machinations of William Rufus’ reign are kept slightly in the background but are touched on enough to give the main conflicts of the plot substance. Who doesn’t love a good spot of hunting, attempted assassination and courtly intrigues?
There is nothing too jarring or anachronistic in the setting or speech. Of course, even I see that aspects can be a little embellished and silly but it does not profess to be completely serious.
Overall the story is a delightful one to read with a cup of tea during long autumn evenings.