The Master of Bruges
The title of the book refers to Hans Memling the painter (1430 – 1494), the central character. With the Duke of Burgundy as his powerful patron, Memling looks set for a productive and profitable life, although made more complicated when he falls in love with the Duke’s daughter, Princess Marie. However this is the mid to late 1460s, a time of turbulence, and Hans finds that being a court painter is no protection against the almost continuous warfare which is politics at this time. Invited to England by Sir John Donne, the painter finds himself involved in the final stages of the Wars of the Roses, in particular with the Princes in the Tower.
Well researched, all the major characters in the novel are actual historical personages, bringing immediacy to the plot. While the ultimate fate of the Princes in the Tower is still open to discussion, the author offers an interesting and plausible alternative. With short passages from the painter regarding the art of painting providing an interesting counterpoint to the plot, this is an enjoyable first novel by Terence Morgan; I look forward to his next.