Book review: Time and Chance by Sharon Kay Penman

Time and Chance (Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine, #2)Time and Chance by Sharon Kay Penman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I rarely give 5 star ratings, but Sharon Penman’s novel on Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitane, and Thomas Becket deserves the rating and more. This is the second in the author’s Angevin series. And while I think no writer or historian can ever completely understand how the marriage between Henry and Eleanor unraveled and how the deep friendship between Henry and Thomas Becket disintegrated, Ms. Penman comes as close as possible to doing so. Her Henry is a complex man–brilliant, determined, and unable to part with any degree of power. Eleanor is equally brilliant and stubborn, but she is constrained by the medieval role for women and chafes at those bonds. Thomas Becket is a man whom Henry elevated from humble beginnings who turns his allegiance from king to God after being appointed Archbishop of Canterbury.
The backdrop is the middle ages–a time of savagery and violence but also a time of deep faith and loyalty. The author depicts the historic events in the context of its time, portraying all of her characters with clarity and yet at the same time, with understanding.
The research is impeccable (with a comprehensive Author’s Note with additional information), the characters vibrant and realistic , and throughout the book, you sense a deep understanding by the author of the subject material and fondness for the people she touches.
The only critique I can give of this book is that it ended, but I reassure myself that there are still more of her books to read!

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