I first read Franklin when we published a nifty, sophisticated suspense novel about Germany between the World Wars — City of Shadows. Penguin then broke out with the bestseller Mistress of the Art of Death and published a number of her historical novels.
This, her final novel, comes back to Harper. Completed by her daughter, the journalist Samantha Norman, it’s a worthy conclusion to a fine body of work—intricately researched, compellingly written and offering protagonists who are vivid and originally conceived. The story follows the lives of two women in bloody, war-torn Medieval England—one noble-born, the other a mercenary masking as a boy to survive. It’s a fine capstone to Franklin’s career, marrying her trademark style of history, mystery, murder and suspense.
[A] grand yet intimate historic adventure that weaves the fates of three women: Pen, a young girl left for dead on the icy Fenlands of Cambridge after she is raped and mutilated by a gang of mercenaries led by a monk; Maud, the determined and undaunted chatelaine of Kenniford castle… and the Empress Matilda, who has swept a country into war in order to rule. With a deft hand at characterization and a fine ability to create an immersive sense of time and place, Franklin and Norman guide readers through the intertwined destinies of all three women….They pay homage to the exhaustion, fear, and personal costs that arrive on the heels of knights in mail, crossbows, and siege machines….[E]nthralling and sure to make readers hope that Norman decides to continue the characters’ stories.”
— Library Journal
“Highlighted by solid characterization of historical and fictional figures alike, the authors’ research on day-to-day medieval life shines….This thoroughly captivating tale was begun by celebrated historical novelist Franklin, who died before its completion, and completed seamlessly by her journalist daughter, Norman.”
— Kirkus Reviews
The Siege Winter (9780062282569) by Ariana Franklin and Samantha Norman. $25.99 hardcover. 2/24/14 on sale.