When Alleyne de Bellac inherits her murdered father's manor in the softly-rolling Gloucestershire countryside, one vulture descends in the guise of a friend to take it from her.
Having come across the murder scene on his return from a battle, undersheriff Geoffrey de Mortagne sets out to help her, but is unable to prevent the inevitable: the loss of her manor to his childhood friend and later enemy, Will d'Arques.
As England is torn by civil war, leaving Alleyne without a protector, Geoffrey takes her with him when he travels to visit his dying brother in Normandy. But not only does he have to face the demons that have haunted him since his childhood, but Alleyne proves to be a troublesome travel companion.
Their journey takes them to places in Normandy that I have had the pleasure to visit, such as Caen, Falaise, Sées and Mortagne-au-Perche. A holiday in Normandy in 2007 gave me the chance to conduct some serious research around the area. I walked in the footsteps of the Conqueror, the count of Anjou, the empress Matilda and Eleanor of Aquitaine. I felt very honoured! :-)
So, here are a few impressions of my travels.
|La Tour Marguerite, Argentan|
La Tour Marguerite in Argentan
The town was founded by Henry I, Matilda's father, and the tower is the only remaining part of the fortifications built in the 12th century.
The remnants of Falaise Castle. Sadly, not much is left of the original, but the concrete construction on the right hides a most spectacular audio-visual treat inside. An exhibition about life in the castle, its inhabitants, including most famously the Conqueror, Henry II and Eleanor.
If you are in the area, I would highly recommend you go inside. It's wonderful!
Bayeux does not feature in Dark Deceit, but it's a town with a pretty old centre and, of course, the exhibition of the Bayeux Tapestry.
Not made in Bayeux nor a tapestry, it's still one of the most incredible pieces of medieval craft around. A must-see!
A pretty, sleepy small town in the Orne region, Domfront is worth a visit. Not much is left of the medieval castle, however, the grounds give you a hint of the expanse.
Here lies Rollo, first mentioned leader of the Viking settlers of Normandy and founder of the duchy of Normandy.
The cathedral also houses the heart of Richard I, the Lionheart, in an elaborate tomb.
|Rouen Cathedral illuminated|
~~~Murder. Betrayal. Hope.
On his return from battle at Lincoln, Geoffrey de Mortagne, under-sheriff of Gloucester and spy for the Empress Matilda, assists a dying knight caught in an ambush. Promising to look after the welfare of the knight’s only daughter, Geoffrey stays at her manor, investigating the murder. Keen to join the Empress on her progress through England, he is torn between his oath and his duty.
Left to defend her manor following her father’s death, Alleyne de Bellac reluctantly accepts Geoffrey’s support. As she doesn’t trust the taciturn stranger, she asks Will d’Arques, an old friend, for help. But loyalties change. Her life in danger and her inheritance at stake, Alleyne must decide which man to trust.
Discover England and Normandy divided by a brutal civil war, where vows are broken as allegiances waver.
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Next Sunday at My Place: author Sue Barnard explores Verona!