Wracked with sickness on a frozen day in 1473, Roger the Chapman collapses on the road in the city of Bristol. Strong as he usually was, he had overestimated his ability to lug his pack of goods the many miles in such gruesome weather. Most of the townspeople want to leave him to die—just such a one might be a plague-bearer—but a weaver’s widow and her young daughter decide to shelter him anyway in Kate Sedley’s The Weaver’s Tale.
Margaret Walker and her daughter Lillis were already regarded with suspicion by their neighbors because of the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Margaret’s father. The town feels guilty for the part it played in the affair, and they have taken to bullying the Walker women. The bullying is bad now, but it seems to be getting worse—perhaps fatally so. Roger agrees to stay in the Walker cottage for several weeks until winter has passed. He can help them with their chores and perhaps, too, help in solving the mystery surrounding the weaver’s death.
He is a little unnerved by catlike Lillis’ predatory infatuation with his handsome self. Though Roger had started training to become a priest, he has no doubt what the clever, fey girl has in mind to do with him if she can. To complicate matters, in the course of his investigations he meets the heavenly Cecily Ford. Far above his station though she is, Roger falls for her as most men do. He finds himself bound to stay in Bristol by his obligation to his hostesses as well as his fascination with Cecily, although it may cost him dearly.
The Weaver’s Tale
is the third in a series of books featuring wry Roger the Chapman, but it is the first in the series that the library owns, and it is not necessary to start at the beginning. Kate Sedley has done her research well. There are no glaring ahistorical notes. She also tells a well-crafted story and sketches believable characters in this quick-reading mystery.