The first in Frazer's new series, a spin-off from her highly successful Dame Frevisse series. Joliffe the Player is the central figure in this series that I like even more than the first one, and that is saying a lot.
This is a spin-off from Frazer's Dame Frevisse series set in 15th century England, starring the traveling player Joliffe. Joliffe and his troupe are in Oxford for the Corpus Christi festival to perform the play Abraham and Isaac. They attract the attention of the simple-minded Lewis, ward of wealthy merchant Master Penteney, who offers them room and board in exchange for performances at his home. But a dead body is found outside the barn door where they are housed, and with the natural human penchant for blaming any itinerant travelers for trouble, Joliffe is determined to find the truth before they are accused of murder.
Frazer's 15th century world is fascinating as always, and the lives of traveling actors are meticulously detailed. As always, her books are full of side characters who actually existed, the mystery intricate, its solution satisfying, and the characterizations excellent. It's a good start to another series from one of my favorite authors.
Margaret Frazer is known for her award winning meticulously researched historical (mid 1400s) fiction starting with the The Novice's Tale, a series featuring Dame Frevisse, a Benedictine nun in St. Fredeweisse Priory. In the third of the Dame Frevisse books, a team of 'players,' a traveling playtroop is introduced. In A Play of Isaac, Frazer has created a spin-off series featuring Joliffe and the players.
A Play for Isaac is well-written, intriguingly interesting, has a great plot and well-developed characters. You are subtly pulled into the life of the players, you have a grasp of the politics of the times, the lifestyles of the rick and the not-so-rich. And when the story ends, you immediately search PaperbackSwap for the next in the series.
Unlike many series authors, Frazer gets better with each book. A new book isn't fill 1/3 with backstory, the characters are familiar to us, and we want, need to know more.
I love this book, and all her other Joliffe books, and of course the original Dame Frevisse series.
I enjoyed all the Dame Frevisse books by Margaret Frazer and I have no idea why I never started this series before now. It's just as enjoyable as her others.
This series features Joliffe, a "player" or actor in a travelling troupe in England, the year is 1434. They are to perform a play in the Corpus Christi festival in Oxford. They've been offered room and board at the home of a local merchant in exchange for a few skits to amuse his household. Then the body of a murdered man is found outside the barn they're staying in. Joliffe knows that there's something their host is not telling, and it could bring trouble to the actors.
The characters are distinct and likeable, there's a good sense of time and place, and some interesting history as well. Not terribly complex it's a fast read but well worth my time. I'm definitely going on with the rest of the series.
Curious about the theater in medieval times? It was not an easy life but this book will tell you of the everyday existance of a group of actors traveling through the country side of England and their involment in a murder. Try it--you will like it.