“He knew in that moment how God felt on Good Friday when He saw on what He had wasted Creation.”
Vainglory begins in 1429 as Victoire De Gloriole regains possession of the family castle Gloriole-sur-Sablois from the English. Victoire marries Englishwoman Ellen Talbot and begins building a family dynasty and bringing Gloriole to new heights, although like all noblemen their ups and downs are ruled by the whims of the current ruler – kings come, kings go. The twists of fate take several bizarre turns in the subsequent generations when Victoire finds himself without a legitimate heir and his daughter Verite is caught up in the machinations of their distant de Puy cousins – can the family survive or will they succumb to madness and greed while building Gloriole to ever greater heights?
And that’s all I’m going to tell you, this is one of those books that you can’t put into a brief review and I don’t write book reports. While history plays a second stage to the main story, I enjoyed the peeks at the historical events swirling in the background – from Joan of Arc and the wars with the English through to Catherine de Medici ruling through her children after the death of Henri II. Although the most gripping moments for me was the terrifying aftermath of the Conspiracy of Amboise as the Huguenots are slaughtered en masse.
With the exception of Victoire and Ellen and their son Fils, most of the rest of the Gloriole family are downright unlikable – this is not your warm and fuzzy family. What you will get is a story of a power hungry, greedy, grasping family that will do anything and everything to attain their vainglory and lord help anyone who gets in their way. This book might be too slow paced to appeal to all readers, but the writing is lovely and very subtle – one to sit back and savor slowly with a glass of red wine and chocolates. And where did I come across this little gem of a book you ask? Elizabeth Chadwick recently talked about some old classics from her medieval collection and Vainglory was one of them. Details here.