At the start of the story, Livia Drusilla is a woman of advanced years who recounts the events of her life. She reminisces about a time when she was a fourteen-year-old girl living under her father’s roof, before she was married. She was the daughter of Marcus Livius Drusus Claudianus, a respectable Roman nobleman who consequently plotted to murder Julius Caesar.
Kathleen O’Dwyer is made of stronger mettle than the average woman. In 1828, she travels west to escape the unwanted advances of a widower, the father of one of her students. Most importantly, she is seeking freedom from society and its expectations of her as a woman. She remembers her brutal upbringing in the Boston slums and the sufferings her mother endured. After accepting a teaching position in Santa Fe in New Mexico Territory, she sets out from St. Louis with a cadre of strange men.
Lady Delia Loring’s husband, Sir Edward, is cross with her. He sends her away to the country, to Harrogate, to take care of her invalid mother, with the expectation that she lives in quiet respectability and has no contact with her daughter. While in Harrogate, she is reunited with a lover from her first blush of youth, Lord Stephen FitzCharles. He asks if they can meet again but she rejects the notion.
It is 1062 AD. During the High Middle Ages, Countess Matilde of Tuscany is one of the most powerful women in all of Christendom. A descendant of the legendary Charlemagne, she is an heiress who stands to inherit vast lands. She lives in a world where strictures are placed upon women, including those who wield great power. While she is powerful, she must rule with a man by her side. Enter Gottfried, Duke of Lower Lotharingia.
Tangled Roots tells the story of three young people in rural 1750s Pennsylvania. Mary Brandon, the daughter of a well-to-do farmer, rebels against societal expectations of women. Matthew Locke, her stepbrother, develops a deep affection for her. Originally from Ireland, Alex Turrentine is an indentured servant who works for the Brandon-Locke family.
For many years, Madame Sylvie Guilbert has been mistress of Le Petit Cottage, a plantation in St. James, Louisiana. Originally an aristocrat from France, she married a slaveholder by the name of Bayard Guilbert while still very young. In the more than sixty years since, she has despised living in Louisiana.
Catalina de Aragon is a fresh-faced, bright-eyed Spanish beauty who comes to the strange land of England to wed Arthur, Prince of Wales. The demure Spanish princess who thereafter is referred to as Katherine (in the English style) arrives in her new country amid great pomp and revelry. Surrounded perpetually by her cortege of Spanish ladies-in-waiting, Katherine is ruled by the iron fist of her imperious duenna, Doña Elvira. Katherine eventually meets with King Henry VII who is delighted by her as well as her betrothed, Arthur, although it is clear that the sickly young man’s attentions are lukewarm at best.
Cora is a young woman who has spent her entire life under the yoke of slavery, living at a cotton plantation owned by the Randall family. For Cora, life has been anything but easy and it’s like fate dealt her a cruel hand. When she was a little girl, her mother Mabel escaped from the plantation and left her behind to fend for herself. At the very beginning of the book, the narrator describes the life of Cora’s grandmother, Ajarry, who was stolen from her homeland of Africa. We discover that Cora has aspects or facets of her grandmother and her mother within the scope of her own personality.
The motherly and domestically minded Meg Hobart has it all: the big house, the BMW, a strapping but handsome husband with a high-powered job, three beautiful children, and time to dedicate to whatever pleases her. While her husband James is the breadwinner, Meg is the homemaker who keeps both the home and the family’s schedule running on a consistent basis. Meg has three children who she dotes on constantly, pandering to their every need. While she has three children, Lizzie and Will, the two eldest are exceedingly spoiled and selfish. Her youngest son, Sam is the only one in the family treating her with great affection and respect.
The proud and beautiful young Mahelt Marshal lives with her two indulgent parents, William Marshal, 1st Earl Pembroke and Isabelle de Clare, 4th Countess of Pembroke. She is something of a favored child and the apple of her father’s eye. Throughout the entirety of her childhood, her parents were forbearing and rather easygoing when it came to her.
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