My Review of Beloved Pilgrim is reposted from Bosom Friends with permission of the blog owner.
Beloved Pilgrim is an engaging historical coming of age story set during the disastrous Crusade of 1101. Elisabeth, the hero/heroine of the story, is a young noblewoman, more inclined to wield a sword than an embroidery needle. She chafes against the constraints of social expectations of her position and longs for the freedom her twin brother enjoys. Sixteen-year-old Elisabeth is forced into a marriage to a much older knight. She barely knows the husband her father has chosen for her. The brute has no regard for her feelings or well-being, and makes it clear on their wedding night that his desire is for her dowry and a noble wife to produce his progeny.
Shortly after her marriage, her mother passes away. Elisabeth’s grief stricken father departs for the Holy Land, leaving the estate in her brother Elias’ hands. Elias longs to join his father on crusade, but falls ill and dies before he can depart. Elisabeth is left to suffer the abuse of a husband she loathes. Desperation drives her to assume her brother’s identity and run away.
Elisabeth/Elias is aided in her disguise by her brother’s squire and lover. Together, they face the challenges and trials of traveling as knight and squire on holy crusade. Beloved Pilgrim is a complex story of love and loss, honor and duty, and more importantly, of the differences in individuals that show us the commonalities of the human condition.
Hawthorne weaves the tale of Elisabeth’s adventures with historical accuracy, excellent detail, and respect for all the factions involved. We laugh and cry with characters that come alive on the page. Her work confronts the deprivations, hardships, and violence of an army on the march. She ably handles the difficulty of posing as a woman traveling in the world of men and wonder and excitement of a young knight seeing the exotic Byzantine Empire for the first time.
Nan Hawthorne is a historical novelist and blogger and an editor for Wilde Oats Magazine. Her novels include An Involuntary King: Tale of Anglo Saxon England and Beloved Pilgrim, and her one nonfiction book is Loving the Goddess Within: Sex Magick for Women, a book about body image and sexuality. You can find out more about her work at www.nanhawthorne.com .