What next for the Meonbridge Chronicles?

I am delighted that A Woman’s Lot, Book 2 of my MEONBRIDGE CHRONICLES series, has been published, again by SilverWood Books! I do hope you will consider reading it.

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A Woman’s Lot has already received some wonderful reviews, which might encourage you to give it a try…

“It’s a great tribute to Carolyn’s wonderful writing and her ability to recreate the era and its people that I slipped back in time quite effortlessly, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.” [Being Anne]

“Another fantastic piece of completely immersive historical fiction from Carolyn Hughes… I’ll definitely be at the front of the queue for her next book.” [The Book Magnet]

“Authentic, absorbing, immersive” [What Cathy Read Next]

“A fascinating piece of historical fiction that I found simply wonderful!” [Brook Cottage Books]

If you do decide to read A Woman’s Lot, please do write a review yourself, and post it on Goodreads or Amazon. Reviews are of enormous help to authors, in putting their books “out there” in front of more potential readers.

In the meantime, I am hard at work writing the third Chronicle. In fact, I completed the first draft a while ago and am now in the throes of the detailed editing phase. I haven’t finally decided on the book’s title yet, but I thought I would tell you a little about the background to its story.

The book does, in fact, have a working title: Truth and Lies. It definitely won’t be called that in the end, because it doesn’t fit the “fortune” motif of the first two Chronicles. However, “Truth and Lies” does give a clue to the theme of the story: the perilous consequences of dissimulation and treachery. “The wages of sin is…” Well, we will have to see exactly what…

But I can tell you that the characters in this story will become embroiled in deceit, of their own making or of someone else’s. And not only one deceit, but deceit layered over deceit, leading the perpetrators and those unfortunate to become caught up in their treacherous webs, into very dangerous waters.

One aspect of the new book that might seem surprising is that, despite my previous assertions that the Chronicles would be told in the voices of women because “it was the women’s viewpoints that particularly interested me…”, I am actually allowing a couple of men to have a voice as well! If you’ve read Fortune’s Wheel or A Woman’s Lot, you will have met the three principal women characters before, as well as one of the two men. But the other is a “foreigner”, who is almost certainly up to no good.

A sketch of the hall of 13th c. Stokesay Castle, Shropshire, by Frances Stackhouse-Acton (1868). Public domain

Unlike Books 1 and 2, the story of Truth and Lies is a little more focussed on the world of the “big house”, of the lives of the occupants of Meonbridge’s manor house rather than those of their tenants. Having said that, if trouble comes to the master, it is almost bound to affect his servants too. And, in this book, it most certainly does…

The story starts in 1356, two years after the end of A Woman’s Lot, and so seven years after the Black Death had ravaged Meonbridge and the whole of England. Meonbridge has settled back into a relatively equable balance of tension and harmony. Despite the devastation caused by the plague and the resulting huge loss of population, somehow Meonbridge seems to have more or less recovered its prosperity; or, at least, the estate, along with Sir Richard de Bohun’s other demesnes across the south of England, appears to be a prize worth winning, by fair means or by foul, if it were ever to become available…

I think it is commonly believed that the Middle Ages were a particularly lawless time, though in practice that probably isn’t true. Mediaeval society was highly regulated: laws governed all sorts of non-criminal things such as dress, food, sex and worship, as well as crime. Punishments were in theory severe. If you have read A Woman’s Lot, you will have seen mediaeval punishment in action. But, even if death could be the penalty for a crime, unless the crime was really heinous, some sort of financial penalty was often imposed instead of physical punishment, partly because it helped to boost the king’s war coffers.

But of course you could only be punished if you were brought to court and I can imagine that, then, as now, there were plenty of people, of every class and status, who chose to take the law into their own hands in order to obtain what wasn’t legally theirs by whatever means they had at their disposal. The “foreigner” I mentioned earlier comes from Herefordshire, close to the border with Wales, where tensions between the Welsh and the English had been going on for centuries. By the fourteenth century, the battles between the English king and the Welsh princes had, I think, more or less settled down. But I am happy to imagine – and I am doing so – that a few unscrupulous and predatory men (as they have always done and still do, everywhere) might well, under cover of the relative isolation of those regions, continue the old ways of sporadic border raiding, in order to grab for themselves more land, more livestock and more money. Such men wouldn’t necessarily scruple about causing bloodshed, in the expectation that, mostly, they would get away with it. For such men could be powerful, and might find ways of avoiding justice. The foreigner, then, is accustomed to this lawless way of life, and won’t object to taking the same approach when a really attractive prize is in the offing.

I won’t say any more…

Truth and Lies might be a somewhat different type of story from the first two Chronicles, but many of the same characters will play their part, and I will still be drawing another intimate picture of life in Meonbridge and beyond. I hope you think it sounds intriguing!

Meanwhile, a few months ago I wrote Maiden’s Chance, the first of a sequence of short novellas, prequels to the first Chronicle, Fortune’s Wheel. The novellas relate a little of the background to the lives of some of Meonbridge’s characters: Maiden’s Chance is about Agnes atte Wode and Sir Philip de Bohun, and the second novella, currently being written, is about Eleanor Titherige. If you have already read Fortune’s Wheel or A Woman’s Lot, you will learn a little more about the characters you have hopefully come to love. If you haven’t yet read the novels, then the novella(s) might intrigue you enough to want to find out what eventually happened to those characters.

If you would like to read Maiden’s Chance, it is available free, as a small “thank you”, if you join the Meonbridge Chronicles Supporters’ Team. In return for your support, I will send you updates on my books, and occasionally ask for your help or feedback. And I will send you further free novellas, as they become available.

I would love you to join the Team. If you decide to do so, I promise not to bombard you with emails, and I hope you will enjoy the short read(s) while you wait for the next Meonbridge novel to be published. To join, please click on http://bit.ly/joinmeonbridge to open the sign up form. I look forward to your company!

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