Set under the rule of King Henry I (1100 A.D.) and then succeeded by King Stephen of Blois (1135A.D.), Tyson paints a vivid picture of life and times during the Feudal system in England. Her rich and authentic details follow the fall of King Henry, the rise of King Stephen, and the usurping of power by Matilda. Upon the death of her father in 1135, Matilda was beaten to the throne by her rival and cousin Stephen of Blois, who became crowned King of England while Matilda was in Normandy. Their rivalry for the throne led to years of unrest and civil war in England known as The Anarchy where Lords pledged their allegiance, and then conveniently forgot their loyalties. Weaved between fact and fiction, The King's Heart delivers a private view into the lives of Lords and Ladies, their servants, their children, and the deals made in the dark to save their lands and their homes.
***Note - this contains some small plot spoilers!***
Lady Cornella opens the novel with severe cruelty. A woman brought up with a strong will holds her house, the house of Tuttleberry, with a firm grip, a powerful whip, and a lashing tongue. "Selfish, cruel, and stubborn, Lady Cornella was ever ounce the tyrant her servants feared and loathed...[they] did not have a tranquil home." I found myself, within just the first few chapters, rooting for her demise. Tyson would not disappoint me, in fact, she took me to the opposite side of the spectrum; I found myself rooting for her life.
Because Lady Cornella's servants could no longer withstand the brutal nature of her, through scheming they have her removed from the property and hopefully lost for good. But, when the Lord of Tuttleberry, George, is told of his wife's disappearance, his persistent nature and fear of losing his manor emerges and he goes off to seek his wife. Unbeknownst to him, another house of nobles, Worthington, manned by Charles Whitfield, "...[a man] of strong reputation...having inherited one of his father's estates just three years prior...[had] brought with him his young bride Eleanor, a robust heir, and a reign of terror" kept his Lady Cornella captive, treated like a common servant; used, abused, and discarded.
It is through this demeaning and difficult time for Lady Cornella that she learns the true nature of what cruelty does to another human being. Beset with a new spirit, faith, and an unexpected gift from Lord Worthington, she is rescued by her husband and returned to the House of Tuttleberry where she now reigns with generosity and a kind spirit.
And this system is good, welcome, and respected until her daughter Corinne becomes of age and is set to find a husband. During this time, it is customary for a young girl to live in another Noble's home to learn the ways of being a Lady. Much to Lady Cornella's dismay, Corinne is destined to fall for none other than Whitfield's son, and this allocates a turn of events that warms hearts, shocks minds, and mends souls.
The King's Heart is a journey not only for the characters involved, but for the reader, too. I found myself experiencing a array of emotions from anger to abhorrence to abasement to animation. The full range of diversity presented within the pages truly completes a circuitous path.
The novel is an easy read at around 400 pages, complete. I devoured this story in three days time finding myself ignoring my entire household just so I could learn the fate of Lady Cornella and her family. It is gripping and inspiring. The historical information enveloped with the fictional portrayal of royalty does not detract from the story unfolding and is embedded with sophistication amongst the lighter text. It is my belief that a new author is on the horizon, one that will continue to write great stories for us to read.
Other works already published and available on Amazon.com by Lezlie Word Tyson are Intents of the Heart, Volume I, Intents of the Heart, Volume II, Intents of the Heart, Volume III, and Some Trust in Chariots (This one I've read and loved it, too!)