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Publisher's Summary

In the middle ages, a poet told a story that mocked a strong woman. It became a literary classic. But what if the woman in question had a chance to tell her own version? Who would you believe?

"Brooks' mischievous retelling [of Chaucer's The Wife of Bath] dials up the feminist themes—and the fun—to 11." The Canberra Times

England, The Year of Our Lord, 1364

When married off aged 12 to an elderly farmer, Eleanor Cornfed, who's constantly told to seek redemption for her many sins, quickly realizes it won't matter what she says or does, God is not on her side—or any poor woman's for that matter.

But Eleanor was born under the joint signs of Venus and Mars. Both a lover and a fighter, she will not bow meekly to fate. Even if five marriages, several pilgrimages, many lovers, violence, mayhem and wildly divergent fortunes (that swoop up and down as if spinning on Fortuna's Wheel itself) do not for a peaceful life make.

Aided and abetted by her trusty god-sibling Alyson, the counsel of one Geoffrey Chaucer, and a good head for business, Eleanor fights to protect those she loves from the vagaries of life, the character deficits of her many husbands, the brutalities of medieval England and her own fatal flaw... a lusty appreciation of mankind. All while continuing to pursue the one thing all women want - control of their own lives.

This funny, picaresque, clever retelling of Chaucer's "Wife of Bath" from The Canterbury Tales is a cutting assessment of what happens when male power is left to run unchecked, as well as a recasting of a literary classic that gives a maligned character her own voice, and allows her to tell her own (mostly) true story.

"Astonishingly good—an instant classic. Certes 'tis a tale for everywoman." Tea Cooper, Bestselling International Author

©2021 Karen Brooks (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about The Good Wife of Bath

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  • MM
  • 29-04-2022

A very well written and beautifully read story.

I really enjoyed listening to this book, the writer is a gifted story teller and the narrator has a beautiful and calming voice. I will definitely listen to more books written by Karen Brooks and books narrated by Fran Burgoyne.

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Started well, not sure about the ending

I very much enjoyed Brook’s story. The main character is engaging and her relationships and life is very real. I loved her spirit of adapting to her circumstances, the window into many aspects of rural life in Medieval England and the beautiful friendship Eleanor has with Geoffrey Chaucer. And in spite of what I’m about to say that irked me, I still wanted to know how the story and the characters ended.
There were some characters I felt a little under developed. The fourth husband, and Melda has little development until much later in the story for a character that produced such a string bond with Eleanor. I also felt that once the story moved to London the main character too readily accepted major changes in her life and that there were a few too many violent deaths. I accept that all of this may have been the norm based on the authors research, but it felt a little disconnected from the earlier parts of the plot.
I also expected some big reveal or some evidence of the narrator being unreliable, giving the story purports to be (mostly) true. But if there was something to speak to this, it may have been subtle and lost on me.

Worth a listen, definitely enjoyable.

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Hard To Stop Listening

Karen Brooks has done it again. Loved this book from start to finish. Excellent narration

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Chaucer's Wife of Bath has her say

Engaging, funny, heartbreaking and educational- this book takes you into a time period we don't often explore through the eyes of one of the most enduring and controversial female characters in Western fiction - Chaucer's Alison of Bath. The author expands on the character and the time period in such a way you feel you come to know and love her. It lagged only slightly 2/3 of the way through, but overall the pace and character development was well done. Extensively research, a narrative filled with interesting characters and an honest, imperfect heroine you want to scold, hug and thank -- time well spent!

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Rich, full and lively

This is a fun and thoughtful story, very well developed and extensive. I saw a live Q and A with the author in which she discussed her diligent processes, and it's obvious that her exhaustive research (she spends a year on it first before writing) has paid off to create a detailed and immersive evocation of life at this time. My only critique would be that some of the "baddies" are really just that - two-dimensional antagonists, a little caricature-y. But maybe that's part of the point, as the story has elements of a romp or pilgrim's progress, where life is to be enjoyed or keen emotions to be felt fully. It felt colourful, vivid, even the smells of the late 1300s were evoked. I'm glad someone's has helped create this world beyond a history book.

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Epic Story Telling...

Wow! Just Wow! What a story! I was engrossed from beginning to end. Superb storytelling in this masterpiece historical novel. It was eye opening for me, knowing very little about 14th century history. Karen Brooks has captured the time as if she were there. So witty and clever, with rich characters to love and despise. A true depiction of a heinous time in history for women. How grateful those days are gone, mostly... Fran Burgoyne's narration was brilliant in bringing it to life. Loved every minute of this emotional ride. Highly recommend this one, even if historical fiction isn't usually your thing.

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A brilliant historical novel

This book is simply wonderful. Superbly researched and written; the narration is also excellent. I couldn’t stop listening and was so sad when it ended.

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.