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The Ruthless Yeomen [Hardcover]

Valerie Anand
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Hardcover, Feb. 15 1993 --  
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Book Description

Feb. 15 1993 Bridges Over Time, Book 2 (Book 2)
Isabel of Northfield is a villein bound to a feudal lord, but family stories about yeomen in her bloodline fan the flames of dissatisfaction in her, causing her to dream about freedom. By the author of King of the Wood.

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From Publishers Weekly

The family of English serfs whose saga began in The Proud Villeins remains in bondage as Anand continues the series into the latter part of the 13th century. In the village of Rushley, Isabel of Northfield, young wife of Alfred Plowman, envies her beautiful cousin Rohese, who marries a freeman. When Alfred dies in an accident, Isabel seeks to raise her station by entering a nearby abbey, illegally offering as dowry the land to which she is tied. She is accepted for the land, which the venal abbess wrests from its rightful owner, but is turned into a kitchen drudge. An attempt at revenge fails, as does her bid for happiness through a love affair with a freeman. In her old age, she passes on to young kinswoman Nicola a talisman of their family's free ancestor, who was unjustly made a serf before the time of William the Conqueror. The unhappily wed Nicola and her brutal but talented craftsman husband, Thomas Woodcarver, escape bondage through deceit and build the possibility of a better future for their descendants. With a thoroughgoing knowledge of medieval life and customs, Anand weaves a moving tale of courageous men and women who, though brutalized by their surroundings, nurture the spark of hope.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA-- This sequel to The Proud Villeins (St. Martin, 1992) is well written, intriguing, and stands on its own. Anand draws readers right into a novel about generations of women serving a manor lord. Their husbands are selected for them and they, and their children, are forced into lifetimes of toil and travail. One woman's life leads to another as the story flows along a stream of early English history. Readers will worry about Isabel of Northfield who flees to a convent to avoid marriage, only to find an abbess who is far worse than anyone she has known. Isabel tells her story to Nicola, a child who grows and marries Thomas, the craftsman of the title. Their daughter runs from her abusive father to begin another life and another story. Through Anand's series, readers see the dull and often futile existence of the villeins. The author has created characters that are strong and difficult to leave behind. It's hard to stop reading this book.
- Linda Vretos, West Springfield High School, Springfield, VA
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Book #2 in Anand's Bridges Over Time Series Jan. 10 2009
By Misfit TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Anand continues the story of Norman Knight Sir Ivon de Clairpont and his descendents that she began in The Proud Villeins. This book opens in 1271 as Isabel of Northfield can't accept her lot in life as a villein and forever tied to the land and the Lord who owns it and everyone on it. Fueled by old family legends of a freeborn ancestor, recently widowed and not wishing to marry the new husband chosen for her, she thinks she can improve her lot in life by joining the church - but evil Abbess Christiana only covets the land Isabel can bring her and very nearly ends in disaster.

The next part of the story continues as a relative of Isabel's, Nicola, is married to the ill tempered Thomas Woodcarver and begins a tenuous marriage as both chafe at the bonds that tie them to the land and their overlord. When plague strikes most of the countryside they grab at their chance to escape bondage and bluff their way into taking over the tenancy of Whitmead as the "distant relatives" of the previous tenants who also died of plague. Thomas and Isabel are able to pull off their bluff, although one close call that ends in violence threatens to expose their true identity and return them to Redesmarch and serfdom. The final segment of the story tells that of their grandson John and his involvement in The Peasant's Revolt, and then finally culminates in 1399 as the newest and wholly free member of what is now called the Whitmead family is introduced and ready to begin the next chapter of the story in Women of Ashdon.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Book #2 in Anand's Bridges Over Time Series Jan. 10 2009
By Misfit - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Anand continues the story of Norman Knight Sir Ivon de Clairpont and his descendents that she began in The Proud Villeins. This book opens in 1271 as Isabel of Northfield can't accept her lot in life as a villein and forever tied to the land and the Lord who owns it and everyone on it. Fueled by old family legends of a freeborn ancestor, recently widowed and not wishing to marry the new husband chosen for her, she thinks she can improve her lot in life by joining the church - but evil Abbess Christiana only covets the land Isabel can bring her and very nearly ends in disaster.

The next part of the story continues as a relative of Isabel's, Nicola, is married to the ill tempered Thomas Woodcarver and begins a tenuous marriage as both chafe at the bonds that tie them to the land and their overlord. When plague strikes most of the countryside they grab at their chance to escape bondage and bluff their way into taking over the tenancy of Whitmead as the "distant relatives" of the previous tenants who also died of plague. Thomas and Isabel are able to pull off their bluff, although one close call that ends in violence threatens to expose their true identity and return them to Redesmarch and serfdom. The final segment of the story tells that of their grandson John and his involvement in The Peasant's Revolt, and then finally culminates in 1399 as the newest and wholly free member of what is now called the Whitmead family is introduced and ready to begin the next chapter of the story in Women of Ashdon.

While this is not the fastest paced book and might not appeal to all readers, I did find it very enjoyable and a fascinating look at the other side of medieval life. Most of the historical novels we find set in medieval times typically deal with the kings, lords and ladies and not with the lower born classes, and this was a refreshing change to see what life was like on the other side of the coin and a completely different way of life from the ruling classes.

The series in order,

The Proud Villeins
The Ruthless Yeomen
Women of Ashdon
The Faithful Lovers
The Cherished Wives
The Dowerless Sisters

Some of these books a bit spendy on the used market, but I'm giving my library's ILL program a whirl and see how lucky I am (or how good they are). The first one came from a Benedictine Abbey outside of Salem Oregon, the second from the Eugene, OR public library, book #3 is the only one my library has - let's see how much my luck continues with the last three. 4/5 stars.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic historical fiction series Feb. 5 2014
By Jodi Goell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love historical fiction books & am so happy I found this book series (Bridges Over Time). The Ruthless Yeomen is the 2nd book and it was fantastic! Had a difficult time putting the book down! I won't talk about the story as the description states what happens but the author does an awesome job with writing the story. The details are great - you can picture what's going on in your mind and these characters come to life. If you like historical fiction books, you should definitely read this series - you will not be disappointed!
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