For My Lady’s Heart by Laura Kinsale (audiobook) – Narrated by Nicholas Boulton

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Pursued by her enemies, flattered and courted for her lands, a powerful, devious princess is desperate to reach refuge. Haunted by the shadow of the young assassin set upon her, Princess Melanthe knows that an ice-cold countenance is her only protection. To succumb to love is the greatest danger of all. She can trust only one man amid the lies, the mysterious Green Knight – a true knight who never wavers once he gives his heart; a man who cannot comprehend deceit. But as an impossible love grows between them, betrayal becomes their only future.

I’ve given this an A- for content and A+ for narration over at AudioGals

although if it had been possible to rate Nick Boulton’s performance any higher, I would have done so!

Medieval romances aren’t a great favourite of mine. I will admit that I haven’t read a large number of them, but most of those I have read have been too anachronistic for my taste. Of course, there is going to be a degree of anachronism in any historical romance – after all, we usually read about the titled and the wealthy and not about the miserable poor eking out a harsh existence in the slums – but for me, romances set in medieval time have to gloss over the more unpleasant aspects of their time to an even greater extent than those set in the nineteenth century. The other thing I’ve found frustrating is the language; in having characters who are supposed to live in the fifteenth century speaking as though they come from this one. It’s easier – I imagine – to ape the language used by Jane Austen as it is much closer to the English we use today, whereas a book written in language appropriate to the Middle Ages would probably not gain a huge audience.

But what Laura Kinsale does in For My Lady’s Heart is probably the closest thing I’ve ever come across to finding something that bridges the gap between my personal desire for at least some degree of authenticity in the language used in the story and the necessary compromise towards making it palatable for a contemporary audience.

I’ve read quite a few things about this book which led me to think that the language was difficult to understand – but that really isn’t the case at all, and if you’ve been put off by similar comments, then don’t be. I know the language isn’t authentic – if it was, I’d have been listening to seventeen hours of Chaucerian Middle English and having to rewind frequently to make sure I’d got the gist of what I’d just heard. But Ms Kinsale has so cleverly interwoven the archaic forms and expressions used by her characters into the text, that they feel completely natural to the modern reader/listener as well as doing more than just paying lip-service to the fifteenth century setting of the novel.

On top of that, however, there’s no denying that her master-stroke lies (once again) in her choice of narrator for this audio. In the hands (or vocal cords!) of Nicholas Boulton, what might, in lesser ones, have come across as quaint “Ye Olde Worlde” expressions, instead sound completely naturalistic and authentic. Spoken passages which might look somewhat clumsy when written down flow beautifully and seamlessly – and I would strongly recommend anyone who found that the language on the page didn’t work for them to listen to the book instead. It’s a revelation and could completely change your view of it.

You can read the rest of this review over at AudioGals

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