Matilda has been summoned to come home to England after the death of her husband, the German Emperor. Their only heir died during childbirth, and now Matilda has no purpose in Germany. She is well aware that she is another pawn in her father’s political game, and worries about her future and duty. While at home in England and waiting for her father to drop the ball and tell her who she will marry next, she befriends her stepmother Adeliza. Adeliza is a few years younger than herself, and both find true companionship, forming a bond out of loyalty to the king. Matilda stands by Adeliza to comfort her as each month her hopes of providing an heir to the king is crushed. Unless Adeliza can provide an heir for the thorn, Matilda is the only living heir. Much to her displeasure she is soon married to Geoffrey of Anjoy, a man much younger than her with good political ties. Their marriage is tumultuous and Matilda wanted for nothing more than an annulment. When it becomes clear that once would not be granted, Matilda and Geoffrey seek to provide an heir for the English crown and fight for the dowry that Matilda was promised but Henry refuses to uphold. The noblemen who once swore allegiance to Matilda quickly defy Henry’s wishes and crown her cousin Stephen when the time comes. Matilda refuses to walk away quietly, she wants everything she was promised and a crown upon her son’s head. Adeliza’s true loyalty lies with Matilda while her new husband’s allegiance is to Stephen.
Lady of the English is an excellent read, a novel that will appeal to both historical fiction fans and those who are looking for an entertaining read. Elizabeth Chadwick concentrates on the relationships and conflicts between characters as well as social conventions and the duty that comes from title and family. Both Matilda and Adeliza are central characters that I deeply rooted for. Matilda is a strong female character who is adamant that her father’s wishes be attained. Adeliza is caught between her loyalty to Matilda and the love and devotion she has for her new husband. Both are substantial characters. I quickly read through this one, not wanting to put it down. I really don't like when historical novels are mostly about romance, and Chadwick does not do this. She will remain one of my favourite historical fiction writers. Elizabeth Chadwick quickly draws her readers into her world, and captures their attention until the end.There is a reason why Elizabeth Chadwick is one of the most favored historical fiction authors of our day, her descriptive prose and extensive research shines through in each of her novels. Historical fiction that is readable and comprehensive, full of political intrigue and fascinating characters.