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Old 09-22-2009, 07:53 AM   #15
lilac_jive
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I'd lke to nominate The Tide Mill by Richard Herley

Quote:
The setting is feudal Sussex in the thirteenth century, a landscape and society that have changed almost beyond recognition.

The power of the Church is at its zenith, and the bishop of Alincester is one of the richest men in England. He derives income from the watermills in his diocese: the forces of wind and rain are held to be divine.

Ralf Grigg is the only son of a master carpenter whose business fails when Ralf is small. The family go to live in the seaside village of Mape, where Ralf's mother was born.

Its lord, Baron Gervase de Maepe, is in debt. He hopes to make a strategic match for his elegant young daughter, Eloise - a match of great importance to the pacific faction at court, lessening the danger of war with France. An exorbitant dowry must be found.

Despite his lowly rank, Ralf makes a close friend of the Baron's youngest boy. Ralf regards Eloise as haughty; but her attraction to the good-looking carpenter's son is as strong as it is turbulent, and she must keep her feelings hidden.

At seventeen, still imagining that she despises him, Ralf falls headlong for his best friend's sister. By now she also is seventeen. Her marriage, sanctioned by the King, has been contracted. The wedding will take place in the autumn of the following year.

Learning of the Baron's forlorn wish that he could afford a mill, Ralf's father has the novel idea of a wheel driven not by the wind or rain, but by the tide. Dismissive at first, Gervase changes his mind when he finds that the Church apparently has no call upon such a mill. Here is the answer to his woes. He commissions Master Grigg to build it, and Ralf discovers his vocation: engineering.

The King rules by divine right. His sanction is likewise divine. To violate it is treasonable. The mill forms the focus not only of an intense and dangerous love-affair between Eloise and Ralf, but a legal dispute between baron and bishop which, spiralling out of control, turns into a ruthless power-struggle between Westminster and Rome.
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