The Maiden's Tale

The Maiden's Tale

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by Margaret Frazer

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It is an hour of desperate need for St. Frideswide's. Thrust into financial ruin by the incompetence and corruption of their former prioress, the nuns have become trapped under the thumb of Abbott Gilberd as he pries into every possible corner of the priory's life.

In an effort to escape their desperate straits,

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It is an hour of desperate need for St. Frideswide's. Thrust into financial ruin by the incompetence and corruption of their former prioress, the nuns have become trapped under the thumb of Abbott Gilberd as he pries into every possible corner of the priory's life.

In an effort to escape their desperate straits, Dame Frevisse is forced to journey to London in order to seek both a new prioress and financial aid for her beleaguered sisters. Once there, she turns to her wealthy cousin Alice, lady wife of the influential earl of Suffolk. But with a new Parliament warming to its arguments, Frevisse discovers that Alice's need may be even greater than her own. Caught between the powerful Gloucester, the machiavellian Bishop Beaufort, and the darkly handsome Duke of Orleans, Alice is torn by the broken loyalties of those she loves the most.

Before she can unravel the twisted turns of romance and deception, Frevisse herself is caught up in the intrigue, carrying secret messages which will determine England's future. But the mystery deepens when one of the other messengers is killed, and Frevisse must solve the murder in order to save not only herself, but Alice's immortal soul.


“Frazer’s books will be among those I read as soon as I see them…” – Houston Facts

“Frazer successfully captures the essence of 15th century England – the sights, smells, and sounds fill the pages, drawing us in as we become immersed in the language, manners, and customs of a far off time and place.” – Rendezvous

“It’s a fine time to introduce yourself to this smart and sensible nun… Weaves a budding romance and a grand, unrequited passion with a bold and dangerous plot… A historical tale that teems with period detail. Great fun for all lovers of history with their mystery!” – Alfred Hitchcock Magazine


"Dame Frevisse, the pious and perceptive nun gives focus to this sober series... [Frazer] shows a meticulous detail that speaks of trustworthy scholarship and a sympathetic imagination." - New York Times Book Review

"Frazer is writing one of the most consistently excellent historical series in print today." - Murder Ink

"Frazer uses her extensive knowledge of the period to create an unusual plot ... appealing characters and crisp writing." - Los Angeles Times

"Within the graceful prose rhythms that have garnered her two Edgar nominations, Frazer's tale of 15th-century nun Dame Frevisse transports the reader to a medieval England made vivid and a world of emotions as familiar then as now." - Publisher's Weekly

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Justin Alexander
Publication date:
Dame Frevisse Medieval Mysteries , #10
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Meet the Author

Herodotus Award Winner ("Neither Pity, Love, Nor Fear")

Edgar Award-nominee (The Servant's Tale)
Edgar Award-nominee (The Prioress' Tale)
Minnesota Book Award nominee (The Bishop's Tale)
Minnesota Book Award nominee (The Reeve's Tale)

To begin with, ‘Margaret Frazer’ was two people, both interested in writing and in medieval England, one of them with modern murder mysteries already published, the other with file drawers, shelves, and notebooks full of research on England in the 1400s. They met in a historical recreationist group called the Society for Creative Anachronism and joined forces to write The Novice's Tale, the first in a history mystery series centered on a Benedictine nun, Dame Frevisse, of a small priory in Oxfordshire. Both character and setting were chosen for the challenge they presented – a cloistered nun in a rural nunnery: how does one go about being involved in murders in that situation? -- and the chance to explore medieval life from a different perspective.

During their collaboration, the authors worked together by first laying out the general idea of a story. Then the ‘Frazer’ half of the team developed the plot and characters in detail and wrote the first draft. The ‘Margaret’ half then re-worked that into a second draft, the ‘Frazer’ half re-worked that (and it helped they lived five miles apart and couldn’t hear what each said about the other during these stages!), and then they did the final draft together, never able to argue over it too long because by then there would be a deadline closing in. The collaboration worked well through six books and two award nominations – an Edgar for The Servant's Tale and a Minnesota Book Award for The Bishop's Tale – before the ‘Margaret’ half grew tired of the series and amicably returned to the 20th century, leaving the ‘Frazer’ half to continue the series, with an Edgar nomination for The Prioress' Tale.

I write stories set in medieval England because I greatly enjoy looking at the world from other perspectives than the 20th century. My brief college career was as an archaeology major with writing intended as a hobby, but with one thing and another, my interest came down to medieval England with writing as my primary activity, only rivaled by my love of research. But why medieval England, especially for someone who grew up without any interest in knights in shining armor and ladies fair? That’s a tangled tale but the final steps were seeing a production of Shakespeare’s Richard II and soon thereafter reading Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time. The complexities of honor and duty and betrayal, mixed with a curiosity as to how the high tragedies of the 1400s came about intrigued me and to understand more I needed to understand how people then saw their world and why they saw it that way. That set me into learning about medieval English politics, religion, philosophy, sociology, economics -- all the multi-layered elements that go into making the lives of people in any time period. I wanted to know the landscape of the time not only outwardly – by way of many trips around Britain – but inwardly – how the world looked and felt to the people who lived then, rather than how it looks to us now. And when the chance came to write a mystery series set in medieval England, I wanted to do it from as far inside medieval perceptions as possible, to look at medieval England more from their point of view than from ours, because the pleasure of going thoroughly into otherwhen as well as otherwhere -- the chance to move right away from the familiar into a whole other way of seeing and behaving -- has always been one of my own great pleasures in reading. As a writer I deeply want to give that same pleasure to others.

So – in everyday life, I’m Gail Frazer, living in the countryside north of Elk River, Minnesota, with four cats and not enough bookshelves. Over the years I’ve had a rag-tag of various jobs, including librarian, secretary, reseacher for a television station, gift shop manager, and assistant matron at an English girls’ school. Married once upon a time but not anymore, I have two well-grown sons who become uneasy if I read books about poisons at the supper table and refuse to turn their backs on me when I say I want to try something I might use in a story. I write more days than not, and when once I moaned that "I have to get a life," my loving family informed me, "You have one. It’s in the 1400s." That seems to sum up things rather nicely.

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Maiden's Tale (Sister Frevisse Medieval Mystery Series #8) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago