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A Review of

A Memory of Love

by Bertrice Small

 

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Summary

When Rhonwyn, a 12th-century Welsh noblewoman decides to accompany her husband on a Crusade, things take an unexpected turn during their encampment on the northern coast of Africa. A Memory of Love

 

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Fact Sheet

Title

A Memory of Love

Author

Bertrice Small

ISBN

0-345-43434-X

Publisher

Ballantine Books

Category

Historical Romance Novel

Rating

StarStar

Number of Pages

433

Published In

2000

 

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Description

The central character in this story is Rhonwyn, the daughter of Llewellyn ap Gruffyd, the prince of Wales, in the 13th century. Like many a young noblewoman of Medieval Europe, she is betrothed into an arranged marriage in order to satisfy her father's political agenda. And like most young women in that situation, she tried hard to make the best of it. It isn't easy, but she copes as best she can.

When Rhonwyn's husband joins the English army on a Crusade, Rhonwyn decides to accompany him. After all, the queen was going on Crusade, so why shouldn't a loyal noblewoman? They eventually arrive at the Crusader encampment in Carthage (along the northern coast of Tunisia). Unfortunately, Rhonwyn is captured by the Emir of Cinnabar, who teaches her lessons in lovemaking in his harem. However, she yearns to find a way to escape the harem and return to her life with Edward.

Like most romance novels, this book definitely contains some explicit sex scenes. Although they didn't bother me, readers who prefer books to be less lusty probably wouldn't appreciate this one.

 

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Is It Right for You?

 

You Will Probably Enjoy This Book If...

  • You're generally a fan of romance novels.
  • You enjoy fictional stories in which at least part of the action takes place in the Middle East or North Africa.
  • You're fascinated by the Crusades.
  • You enjoy stories with ongoing twists and turns.

 

This Book Probably Isn't Right for You If...

  • You are squeamish about books with lots of explicit sex.
  • You're not particularly fond of the romance novel genre of fiction.
  • You get impatient with books that put their heroines through the wringer.

 

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

 

What I Liked:

  • Bertrice Small clearly did extensive research when preparing this book. Although I certainly would not encourage anyone to think of a romance novel as being a legitimate source of historical or cultural information, I nonetheless was impressed at the overall use of historical detail in this book.
  • Rhonwyn is certainly not your typical dutiful nobleman's daughter. Dutiful, yes. Typical, no!
  • The fireworks between Rhonwyn and her father were entertaining throughout the book.

 

What I Didn't Like:

  • The first 13 chapters (out of 18) seemed to drag for me. Fortunately, the pace picked up and the last 5 were much more engaging.
  • Parts of the book seemed too far-fetched. For example, the fact that a prince would keep his mistress in a hut so remote that her older child had reached the age of five without ever seeing another human being other than her parents and younger brother just didn't feel credible.

 

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Conclusion

I felt this book was weaker than some of the others that Bertrice Small has written. I really didn't warm to any of the characters, even Rhonwyn, until late in the story. The plot seemed too predictable.

So far as I know, this book is not a sequel to any other. The plot stands on its own, and is not cluttered with references to characters from other books. Also, so far as I know, no sequel has been written for this book. (It was published in July, 2000.)

The harem scenes were minimal. There were some insight into the politics and dangers of being in a harem, but really there wasn't very much of it. I felt like the view of the Orient depicted in this book was rather generic--there was nothing distinctive to give me the feeling this story was taking place in Tunisia as opposed to anywhere else in the Mediterranean region other than mentions of the city of Carthage. (In contrast, another of Small's books called The Kadin was partly set in an Ottoman harem, and it was sprinkled with information on what the Turkish harems of that era were like.)

It will teach you a little about that era in history. But if you generally don't care for romance novels, this one probably isn't a strong enough book to make it worth taking a chance on it.

I found the beginning of this book to be a bit dull. In fact, I was a bit bored until about Chapter 13 (out of 18) or so. Up until then, too much of the plot seemed predictable. Fortunately, the last several chapters started to pick up the pace, and it ended much better than it began.

 

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Disclosures

There is nothing to disclose. I have never had any contact with anyone associated with this book.

 

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