Saturday 12 June 2021

Book Review: The Good Wife of Bath by Karen Brooks (Historical Fiction)

Title: The Good Wife of Bath
Author: Karen Brooks
Publisher: HQ Fiction
Publication Date: 7 July 2021
Format: Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: ARC from Publisher

In the middle ages, a poet told a story that mocked a strong woman. It became a literary classic. But what if the woman in question had a chance to tell her own version? Who would you believe?

England, The Year of Our Lord, 1364

When married off aged 12 to an elderly farmer, Eleanor Cornfed, who's constantly told to seek redemption for her many sins, quickly realises it won't matter what she says or does, God is not on her side - or any poor woman's for that matter.

But Eleanor was born under the joint signs of Venus and Mars. Both a lover and a fighter, she will not bow meekly to fate. Even if five marriages, several pilgrimages, many lovers, violence, mayhem and wildly divergent fortunes (that swoop up and down as if spinning on Fortuna's Wheel itself) do not for a peaceful life make.

Aided and abetted by her trusty god-sibling Alyson, the counsel of one Geoffrey Chaucer, and a good head for business, Eleanor fights to protect those she loves from the vagaries of life, the character deficits of her many husbands, the brutalities of medieval England and her own fatal flaw... a lusty appreciation of mankind. All while continuing to pursue the one thing all women want - control of their own lives.

This funny, picaresque, clever retelling of Chaucer's 'Wife of Bath' from

The Canterbury Tales is a cutting assessment of what happens when male power is left to run unchecked, as well as a recasting of a literary classic that gives a maligned character her own voice, and allows her to tell her own (mostly) true story.


The Good Wife of Bath was a compelling tale that held my interest throughout. While it was fun to compare this book with what we know about the character from the source text, you could actually read and enjoy this book without having read The Canterbury Tales first. Then it would simple be the story of a strong woman in medieval England whose life takes turn after turn as she moves between husbands before finally coming into her own. But having some knowledge of the text on which it is based will add to your experience. The prose in this work was easy reading and nicely paced, ribald at times, but always with a sense of reality about it. If you are a fan of historical fiction narrated by a feisty heroine, I am certain you will find something to enjoy in this tale. It gets 4.5 stars from me.

I received this book as a free review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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