Book Review: “Falls the Shadow,” by Sharon Kay Penman

Falls the Shadow  (Welsh Princes, #2)Falls the Shadow by Sharon Kay Penman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is historical fiction at its best, in my opinion. I have always loved the story of history, but have never felt much like I experienced history unless I were reading historical fiction. This is as good as it gets. Obviously research-heavy, and accurate in particulars as well the feel of the time.

No one acts outside the medieval paradigm. There are no apologies for the rampant anti-Semitism, but it is not excused either. It is portrayed without frills. It made me cringe to think of a people who really believed the way they did then.

Gone are the fanciful tapestries woven about this period in history, and what is left are plain tales of real people, living real lives, in real situations, in a culture beyond our ability to truly understand. It is so far removed from where we are now, all that is left is the very gritty humanity we all share. For I did see familiarity there. Personality, relationship, love, parenthood, responsibility, government, and religion all have a reachable clarity.

Anyway. It’s primarily the story of Simon de Montfort and his attempts to push King Henry III into reform. It made me laugh in places. Cringe in others. I even cried at one point.

I’m glad I found this hidden gem at a garage sale. It’s earned its right to occupy space on my bookshelf.

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