The Silent Songbird
Young Evangeline is of noble birth, cousin to King Richard II, and is well known for her beautiful singing. The King honors the family at Berkhamsted Castle with a royal visit, bringing with him his advisor, Lord Shiveley, who is intent on marrying this beautiful songbird the following day, with the King’s full support. Evangeline is horrified by the thought of marrying a man twice her age, and who insulted her upon meeting her by telling her that even though she is illegitimate and not wealthy, he is marrying her for her royal blood.
From her window, she observes a group of kindly strangers, and the leader is both helpful to others and very handsome. She then hatches a plan with her maid servant, Muriel, to run away from her unhappy future by dressing as a servant and joining this group to make their escape. They travel with assumed names, and Evangeline pretends to be mute to evade their pursuers. Her admiration for Westley Le Wyse grows as the group travels to the village of Glynval, where she discovers that he is the son of a lord and lady, and therefore her equal. The masquerade and their blossoming relationship are in danger of falling apart as jealous and deceitful villagers are placing both her and Westley—and ultimately the Kingdom—in danger. Muriel and Evangeline are in a poor position to ask Westley for aid after all of the lies that they have had to tell.
Life in 1384 is depicted nicely in this well-written novel that shows kindness and honesty can help form allies in unexpected places. It is a very enjoyable journey into medieval England.