The Town House
Rating: 4 out of 5
Genre: Historical Fiction
In the latter part of fourteenth century England, Martin Reed is a young man being trained by his father to be a smith. He is owned by the lord of a manor in Rede, Norfolk.
One day he rescues a frail young girl from a beating by her stepmother. He is immediately taken with her and vows to marry her. When going before the lord of the manor to ask for her hand in marriage, the lord sets his eyes on Kate and refuses their marriage request.
Martin, in a fit of anger, punches the lord in the face, is beaten to the point of death and left to die. His father does nothing to save him and leaves him for dead. Martin plans an escape from the manor leaving everyone to think him dead, taking Kate with him.
Their long and arduous journey to leave Norfolk and begin a new life together almost costs both their lives. They are aided by an old woman and end up in the town of Baildon in Suffolk. The law states that if they remain free for one year and one day, they will have their freedom.
Martin and Kate begin a life of poverty in the the town of Baildon where Martin changes his name to Walter. He and Kate struggle with earning a living and raising a family, plagued by hunger, unfair labor laws, and the power that the Abbey has over the town.
The story is told through the eyes of the main characters, alternating with pieces told in third person. The Town House is not a novel that focuses on the elite of fifteenth century England, but tells the daily struggles of the down-trodden, impoverished, and sadness of medieval times. It shows--to me--that there always has been and always will be cruelty, unfairness, and greed. Yet there is always hope and good people who dispense it with generosity.
Norah Lofts is a masterful storyteller. The Town House is the first in a trilogy with the second installment being The House at Old Vine, and the third, The House at Sunset.
If you like The Town House, you will probably like anything by Catherine Cookson aka Catherine Marchant.
"Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously." - 2 Corinthians 9:6