Read Great Maria by Cecelia Holland Free Online
Book Title: Great Maria|
The author of the book: Cecelia Holland
Edition: Soho Press
Date of issue: May 1st 1993
ISBN 13: 9780939149841
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 28.77 MB
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Reader ratings: 4.1
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As young ladies living in the eleventh century did not decide for themselves who they were going to marry, Maria reluctantly marries the "wrong" brother chosen for her by her father. That is, she marries Richard even though it is his brother Roger she longs for. The marriage is off to a rocky start, but several beatings later, plus a few children and the couple finally settle down in reasonable harmony. She and Roger continue to fancy each other, but Richard is a jealous husband and handsome Roger likes to spread his favour about.
I have mixed feelings about this novel. I liked some, but not all of it. The story telling is good, yet the story didn't hold my interest. The characterisation is good. I don't normally let my modern views get in the way when I read books set in medieval times, but on this occasion my 21st century sensibilities kept intruding. Richard raised my hackles in his treatment of Maria, and it irritated me that although she is quite feisty and shrewd, she is slapped about by him and called a "silly cow" or a "stupid cunt", and then off they go to bed to produce more offspring. I know that it was a husband's prerogative to do so in medieval times, but I couldn't help feeling repelled.
The story takes place in interesting times. It is the eleventh century, and the Normans have settled in Southern Italy and Sicily. Enemies are everywhere, and they are sometimes those you least suspect. Give Richard his due, he doesn't give way to anyone, be they priest, pope or emperor. He negotiates peace with the Saracens, and it is also admirable that he favours freedom of religion, a tolerance which Maria initially opposes, but which she learns to accept and embrace. She learns that it is OK to mix with Jews and Saracens and at one point she links arms with Ismael, a Saracen, much to the shock and horror of the other ladies. Later Richard introduces Ismael to Father Yvet as his foster son. The character development is pretty good.
The protagonists and events are fictitious. As some reviewers have pointed out the story seems to be very loosely based on the history of the de Hauteville family who were prominent in the Norman conquest and settlement in Italy. The novel has, however, created a desire for me to get The Norman Conquest of Southern Italy and Sicily dusted and read.
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Read information about the authorPen name used by Elizabeth Eliot Carter.
Cecelia Holland is one of the world's most highly acclaimed and respected historical novelists, ranked by many alongside other giants in that field such as Mary Renault and Larry McMurtry. Over the span of her thirty year career, she's written almost thirty historical novels, including The Firedrake, Rakessy, Two Ravens, Ghost on the Steppe, Death of Attila, Hammer For Princes, The King's Road, Pillar of the Sky, The Lords of Vaumartin, Pacific Street, Sea Beggars, The Earl, The King in Winter, The Belt of Gold, The Serpent Dreamer, The High City, Kings of the North, and a series of fantasy novels, including The Soul Thief, The Witches Kitchen, The Serpent Dreamer, and Varanger. She also wrote the well-known science fiction novel Floating Worlds, which was nominated for a Locus Award in 1975. Her most recent book is a new fantasy novel, Dragon Heart.
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