There are enjoyable elements in this collection set in the England of William the Conqueror, but there are weaknesses too. After reading the first story I’m not really motivated to read the other two stories.
For everything I like there is a downside. I like the intensity between Saxon noblewoman Avis and Melville, the Norman she is forced to marry. But the unresolved tension goes on for too long and becomes tedious. I like the clash of cultures between the Anglo-Saxons and the Norman conquerors, but there is no detail about the cultures. For example Avis prepares Anglo-Saxon food repeatedly but we never find out what the food is. Would it have killed the author to google an historical recipe? I like the many child characters, but after introducing each child the author discards them and moves onto another one. We never get to know any of the sub characters...they are bland background.
Unfortunately for author Emily Murdoch there are wonderful authors in this genre, such as Kathryn Le Veque, who bring grimy medieval times fully to life. Emily is definitely in Kathryn’s shade. This is not a bad collection, but it’s not wonderful either.