Reading Group Review : Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell #Review


Synopsis of the story:

Shadow on the Crown is a fictionalised account of the court of King Ethelred II of England. In 1002 fifteen year-old Emma of Normandy crosses the Narrow Sea to wed the much older King, whom she meets for the first time at the church door. Thrust into an unfamiliar and treacherous court, with a husband who mistrusts her, stepsons who resent her and a bewitching rival who covets her crown, Emma must defend herself against her enemies and secure her status as queen by bearing a son…



Botwell Green Library Reading Group met at the Tovertafel (aka Magic Table) on Friday afternoon to discuss Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell; in-between playing snap, bursting bubbles, paint balls and balloons, completing jigsaw puzzles, sweeping leaves and tickling fish!! This new interactive installation at Botwell Green Library was a big hit with the Library Reading Group and just as well because we were so much in agreement of how enjoyable the book was, there was no difference of opinion and not much to say.

This book was a surprisingly easy read and a popular choice with the group. Several of us were concerned with having to read over 500 pages of an 11th century-set novel but there was positive feedback through the month from different group members visiting or contacting the library.

One member said it was “the best book choice for the group yet.”

Another, rather fortuitously, booked a holiday to Devon which coincided with reading the novel, bringing the narrative to life:  “I brought ‘Shadow on the Crown’ away with me – what a good read it is. Today we went, by boat, from Exmouth along to Topsham – which is almost part of Exeter now.  Along the river I thought about the Danish dragon ships which came that way hundreds of years ago to attack Exeter. A lady on the coach party asked me for the details of the book because she said it sounds just her kind of story so I have given them to her.”


Unanimously all 8 of us enjoyed this book from cover to cover. Overall we rated this story as “good” (the rating of “excellent” was reduced by 1 member rating it as “OK”). Very high praise indeed.

As a group, we would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good read and would definitely read more books by this author when they become available in the library catalogue.

Other individual comments include:

“It was a little difficult initially to keep tabs on very similar names but once the initial hurdle was overcome it was enjoyable. A nice light read. Thanks Ben, enjoyed it.”


“I really enjoyed this book and it was good to learn about British history more than 1000 years ago. This book deals with the first years of marriage until the birth of her son Edward. The story is quite fast paced, spread over 5 years with romance, espionage, war, jealousy and action. A page-turner and every day I looked forward to the next evening’s read”.

About the Author


Patricia Bracewell is a native of California where she taught literature and composition before embarking upon her writing career. A lifelong fascination with British history and a chance, on-line reference to an unfamiliar English queen led to years of research, a summer history course at Downing College, Cambridge, and the penning of her debut novel SHADOW ON THE CROWN. Set in 11th century England, SHADOW is the first book of a trilogy about Emma of Normandy who was a queen in England and a power behind the throne for nearly four decades. Patricia is working on the two follow-up novels in the series, but takes time out for tennis, gardening and travel. She is the mother of two grown sons and lives with her husband in Northern California.

Visit her website at


Next Month!

eim-pb-jacketDuring the Dementia Awareness Month of May we will be reading Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey, a well-received debut award-winning novel about Maud, an ageing grandmother who is convinced her friend Elizabeth is missing and in terrible danger…

Please ask at the counter at Botwell Green Library if you would like to read the book and join in the June discussion Friday 1 June at 2pm.


Written by Ben Caduff

Botwell Green Library



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