Wednesday, 17 March 2010

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Master of Bruge - Terence Morgan


In fifteenth century Bruges, master painter Hans Memling is about to find himself at the heart of a political storm that stretches from his home city to Plantagenet England. When Hans agrees to play host to two exiles on the run from their enemies in London, he has no idea that they are not the modest traders they appear to be. Meanwhile, he has come into contact with the powerful Duke of Burgundy. Over the coming years he will grow increasingly close to the duke’s beautiful daughter, the princess Marie, painting her portrait obsessively.

In 1482, Hans takes up an invitation to visit his English friends, who have returned to London following their exile. There he not only find himself caught up in the dramatic final stages of the Wars of the Roses, but also plays a crucial role in the fate of the ‘Princes in the Tower’. Returning home to Bruges, Memling is racked with guilt, for reasons that will only truly become clear as his story draws to a shocking end.

Full of exquisite descriptions of Memling’s art and times, The Master of Bruges is a gripping debut from a bracing new voice in historical fiction.


Having a brother who is an Art Teacher and Art Aficionado is sometimes quite handy. As when I mentioned this novel to him, he became quite interested as he loves the work of Hans Memling. So to get a historical fiction based on the artist’s life was a bit of a triumph for him. Whilst many recognise the artists of the Italian Renaissance (of the same time period), Botticelli, Da Vinci, and Michelangelo, Memling was more notable to Northern Europe due to his connections with the royal houses.

What perhaps makes this novel something special is the fact that the author does not over flounce the novel and makes it feel more like a diary of the artist rather than a straight tale of one particular period. It is fascinating, it is a wonder but above all, it is a tale that really goes to highlight the talent of the author through its wonderful portrayal of the 15th Century. A definite author to watch.

No comments: