#EmptyShelf 2016 #4: The Perfect Sinner by Will Davenport

Sdavenporto, it’s full on into a new term, so light-weight fiction is generally what I’m looking forward to at the end of the day to send me off to sleep… although I seem to keep picking ones that I want to know so much more about.

The Perfect Sinner was a slow starter for me .. it starts with Sir Guy de Bryan (one of the First Knights of the Garter) watching his Chantry being built as he tries to compensate for the mistakes that he feels he has made in his past – including at the Battle of Crecy (1346), before being sent off on ‘the King’s duties’ – across the Alps – in winter – to take a message to Italy (our travels today = SO much easier and less dangerous!) – accompanied by a squire who turns out to be Geoffrey Chaucer … so some of the names from The Knight’s Tale will be familiar!

The book then winds in and out – backwards and forwards through Guy de Bryan’s timeline in history as he tells various people his story, but also the story of Beth Battock, who – at the heart of a political scandal disappears to her family home of Slapton in the hope that she can escape the publicity. This happens to be the village where the Chantry was built – although there’s not much of it left now except ruins – and we see how the stories start to run together … with political intrigue, gallantry, and romance woven through the two stories.

I’ve always been interested in historical novels – especially those that are based on acres of historical research (faction, if you will) – I’m a big fan of Georgette Heyer, who was known for her detailed historical research into the Regency era (work she’s best known for, although she viewed these only as a way to make money, rather than a joy to write!) – but this era in history is a little outside of my expertise (and my interest, to be honest), but it was well-written, well-paced – and that’s what truly wins – a good story!