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The Meonbridge Chronicles

Carolyn Hughes

Category: Drama
Four book series

In the 14th century, after the Black Death has ravaged England, life in the manor of Meonbridge in Hampshire will never be quite the same, for the ordinary folk or the gentry. The devastation changes the balance of society, between rich and poor, and between men and women. Death, conflict and betrayal follow, but love is never far behind.

The Meonbridge Chronicles series currently has four books, with more to follow.

Fortune’s Wheel, the First Meonbridge Chronicle

How do you recover when half your neighbours are dead from history’s cruellest plague?

June 1349. In Meonbridge, a Hampshire manor, the worst plague in England’s history has wiped out half its population, among them Alice atte Wode’s husband and Eleanor Titherige’s entire family. Even the household of the manor’s lord and his wife, Margaret de Bohun, have not escaped the horror.

Now the plague has finally left Meonbridge, the community is trying to return to normal life. But it’s a struggle, with so much to do and so few left to do it. Tensions mount between the de Bohuns and their tenants, as the workers realise their scarceness means they can demand higher wages, go wherever they wish, dictate their own lives. It’s what they’ve so long waited for!

Though his lordship takes a very different view…

When the tensions deepen into violence and disorder, and the men – lord and villagers alike – seem unable to achieve any resolution, the women – Alice, Eleanor and Margaret – must step forward to find the way out of the conflict that is tearing Meonbridge apart.

A Woman’s Lot, the Second Meonbridge Chronicle

How can mere women resist the misogyny of men?

The devastation wrought two years ago in Meonbridge by the Black Death changed the balance of society: women saw their chance to build a business, to learn a trade, to play a greater part. But many men hold fast to the teachings of the Church and fear the havoc the so-called “daughters of Eve” might wreak if they’re allowed to usurp men’s roles and gain control over their own lives.

In Meonbridge, a resentful peasant rages against Eleanor Titherige’s efforts to build up her flock of sheep… Susanna Miller’s husband, grown melancholy and ill-tempered, succumbs to idle gossip that his wife’s a scold… Agnes Sawyer’s yearning to be a craftsman is met with scorn. And the village priest, fearful of what he considers women’s “unnatural” ambitions, is determined to keep them firmly in their place.

Not all the men in Meonbridge resist the women’s desire for change – indeed, they want change for themselves. Yet it takes only one or two misogynists to unleash the hounds of hostility and hatred…

De Bohun’s Destiny, the Third Meonbridge Chronicle

How can you uphold a lie when you know it might destroy your family?

It is 1356, seven years since the Black Death ravaged Meonbridge, turning society upside down. Margaret, Lady de Bohun, is horrified when her husband lies about their grandson Dickon’s entitlement to inherit Meonbridge. She knows that Richard lied for the very best of reasons – to safeguard his family and its future – but lying is a sin. Yet she has no option but to maintain her husband’s falsehood…

Margaret’s companion, Matilda Fletcher, decides that the truth about young Dickon’s birth really must be told, if only to Thorkell Boune, the man she’s set her heart on winning. But Matilda’s “honesty” serves only her own interests, and she’s oblivious to the potential for disaster.

For Thorkell won’t scruple to pursue exactly what he wants, by whatever means are necessary, no matter who or what gets in his way…

Children’s Fate, the Fourth Meonbridge Chronicle

How can a mother just stand by when her daughter is being cozened into sin?

It’s 1360, eleven years since the Black Death devastated all of England, and six years since Emma Ward fled Meonbridge with her children, to find a more prosperous life in Winchester. Long satisfied that she’d made the right decision, Emma is now terrified that she was wrong. For she’s convinced her daughter Bea is in grave danger, exploited by her scheming and immoral mistress.

Bea herself is confused: fearful and ashamed of her sudden descent into sin, yet excited by her wealthy and attentive client.

When Emma resolves to rescue Bea from ruin and tricks her into returning to Meonbridge, Bea doesn’t suspect her mother’s motives. She is happy to renew her former friendships but, yearning for her rich lover, she soon absconds back to the city. Yet, only months later, plague is stalking Winchester again and, in terror, Bea flees once more to Meonbridge. But, this time, she finds herself unwelcome, and fear, hostility and hatred threaten…

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