My Lady’s Shadow
Set in late 12th-century France, this is the third installment in the Medieval Ladies series. Lady Maria of Turenne is a fickle young woman who doesn’t hesitate to toy with the affections of young men. When a formal and public courting event with Count Hugh La Marche goes awry, Maria shifts her attentions to the source of the trouble, a travelling troubadour named Gui d’Ussel. Her infatuation with him leads her father to force her hand in marriage. After considering the offers of three men, she makes her choice and leaves the family home.
Meanwhile, Maryse, a young woman taken from her family to serve in the Turenne household, is resentful of her place and Maria’s fickle nature. Along the way, she develops her own love interests and becomes as variable as Maria with her various romances. Despite her dislike of Maria and her occasional attempts to sabotage her mistress, the two women form a strong bond in the face of difficult circumstances.
The story is told in Maryse’s first-person voice, which feels rather detached and impersonal. This has the unfortunate effect of making it feel as though I were being told a story rather than experiencing it. The changeable nature of the women makes it difficult to feel any sympathy or connection with the characters. A bit more context around the customs of the time would also be helpful in understanding the constraints in which the women find themselves.