16 Jun 2009

The Perfect Sinner.

The Perfect Sinner By Will Davenport.

Guy de Bryan is the perfect gentle knight, regarded far and wide as s good man, renowned for his devotion to chivalry. But when he sees Elizabeth, he knows what he feels for her is anything but courtly love. It is an emotion so strong that it will lead him into mortal danger, make him act in a way he would have thought impossible - and change the course of both their lives.

Elizabeth's sin must never come to light, and Guy will not reveal it even in confession. But as he leads a fraught, dangerous mission across the freezing alps, his secrets torment him. And a young squire accompanying him begins to draw out what de Bryan has hidden for so long - a remarkable tale of chivalry, murderous deception and deep passion.

Six hundred years later high-flyer Beth Battock is caught in a drama of her own. Forced back to her home village by a political scandal, she most come to terms with her own and her family's history, the thread that binds them to the de Bryans and the realisation that she is not alone in her mistakes...

This novel is the poorest, most dull book I have read in quite a while. "Powerful historical fiction, utterly convincing" claims the wonderful author Philippa Gregory on the front cover. Had we read the same book? I found most of it, especially the chapters concerning de Bryan, to be unconvincing and extremely long winded, with not a lot actually seeming to happen. For me it was one of those rare books in that, though you are reading it, nothing is really being retained from one page to the next. Perhaps there was nothing about the story or characters to capture the imagination. However certain bits of it were (unintentionally?) funny - take, for example, this sentence which had me giggling for a while afterwards " William and his horse weren't getting on ....."

The Perfect Sinner covers the story of Guy de Bryan who, along with the Sir John Molyns of the book, actually existed and the Battock family who, six hundred years later, still honour a vow to say a special mass for Elizabeth, Guy's one true love, on St Petronella's Day, May 31st, - the day Elizabeth died in 1359. With the ill health of both grandmother, Eliza and father, Lewis, it will be up to Beth to carry on the tradition but is she able to?

The book is interesting in that it covers two battles, Crechy in which cannons were used for the first time and then the Second World War when troops were preparing for the beach landings in Normandy. It also covers three love stories - the love Guy has for Elizabeth, the short lived love of Eliza for her American GI, Sergeant James Kimber, and the rekindled love of Beth and, her teenage friend and romance, Luke. Most interesting of all those is the Historical Note at the end of the book which explains the squire of the book was in fact Geoffrey Chaucer who, I learnt, undertook many diplomatic missions for the king and fifteen years or so after the mentioned journey to Genoa, began to write the Canterbury Tales, including the Knight's Tale.


susan s. said...

The further back in a family's history one goes, the more has to be made up(or should I say 'imagined?)... especially everyday happenings, dialogue, etc. Loved your reference to the William and his horse!

Petty Witter said...

Susan, that one sentence was the best thing about the whole book.
I think I know what you mean about family history. I started to trace my family tree because my nana always said we were related to the chocolate makers Rowntree's Of York. Turns out we were in fact related to the Rontree family though funnily enough the woman of the house made chocolates in her home as part of a cottage industry.