Review, 4 stars, from Annette Kristynik of Impressions in Ink.
Rahere, other known spellings are Raher or Raherius. Lived during the age of King Henry I of England. Rahere’s birth is unknown, his death was in 1144. He is buried in St. Bartholomew’s Priory which he established along with the hospital in 1123. He had been a minstrel in Henry’s court. A minstrel is defined as an entertainer. Minstrels were common in royal court from 11th through 17th centuries. There are few (solid) resources in which to find biography information on Rahere. One in particular has been destroyed. I came across a poem by Rudyard Kipling which is noted above.

Rahere an orphan, was raised in a monastery. He sang in the boy’s choir. The monks lovingly cared for him, and his years there were spent in comfort and peace. At an early age Rahere shows compassion and a servant’s heart. He later leaves the monastery and begins training as a minstrel in King William Rufus’s court. William Rufus (1056-1100) was the son of William I, the Conqueror. Rahere was imprisoned and abused for a period of time, and later released. He had wanted to build great things to help people. St. Bartholomew’s Man, focuses on Rahere’s vision, plan, and act, of building St. Bartholomew’s Priory and Hospital, the first hospital in London.

My Thoughts:
I loved this story. Rahere’s loving heart is depicted throughout the story. His character qualities are shown as: gentle, kind, sensitive, and merciful. When other people wronged Rahere, he is not vengeful, but perseveres in a higher calling. He is a character which exudes Christ-like love.
The rulers of William Rufus, Henry I, Stephen, and Matilda the daughter of Henry I, are all depicted.
Matilda’s quest and struggle to rule is weaved in to the story. This period of English rule was one of insecurity. However, Stephen’s rule was relatively peaceful, but he spent money lavishly.
I loved reading about life in a monastery. Their haven was a city of its own. They had a garden and a kitchen. They helped the poor and sick. Holiday celebrations were warm and joyous.
St. Bartholomew’s Man has given me another interpretation of life during the 11th century. I’ve read several books on kings, queens, and royal court officials, but this is a first in reading about a minstrel, and builder of a hospital.

5.0 out of 5 stars I cried at the end., August 13, 2014
This review is from: St Bartholomew’s Man (Kindle Edition)
Did I enjoy this book: Yes.It gave me chills, made me laugh, and as much as I hate to admit it – yes, I cried at the end.

I usually try to find a quote to capture some pivotal scene that stood out and inspired an emotional reaction from me. In this book, there were too many wonderful moments to count. In the end, I just had to pick one:
“Rahere turned towards him, eyes still closed. He heard Alfune lie down again. Such care – oh Lord, such care for me, a murderer . . . all he could do was to pray for the soul of a fellow sinner.” I think that was the moment I officially fell in love with these characters.

Would I recommend it: Yes. It’s not an easy read, though. You’ll need a quiet spot and a warm cup of tea. Then kick back and allow yourself to be transported to another time and place.

As reviewed by Belinda at Every Free Chance Books.

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book., 9 Mar 2014
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I enjoy historical fiction from all periods, and this certainly did not disappoint. This is a wonderful tale set in a period in English history that is little discussed. I particularly enjoyed the characters; the detail of their lives made it easy to immerse oneself in the story. I found myself walking or riding beside them, watching the events described unfold or looking at the architecture. It’s a very human story, at once compassionate, cruel, joyful and desperate. I highly recommend it, not only to aficionados of the genre, but to anyone who likes a good tale.
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine piece of work, 21 Feb 2014
This review is from: St Bartholomew’s Man (Kindle Edition)
This is a refreshing angle for a piece of historical fiction writing, viewing the post Norman Conquest world from the viewpoint of the minstrels’ gallery. I was interested to read that the author is a writer of music herself. The love of music and understanding of its power to touch others whether it is a hymn or a tavern song shines through and one can identify with Rahere as he finds joy in it. His abuse at the hands of Rufus has shocking impact and is made all the more effective by the fact that we know nothing of his fate as the next chapter opens. Beautifully written and with a perfect level of historical detail, particularly concerning the instruments etc, which makes it interesting as well as entertaining.
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumph of historical writing, 25 Jan 2014
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Evoking the social Zeitgeist with razor sharp accuracy, this book is a page turner from start to finish.
The struggle between the mighty power of the establishment and religious conservatism. The attitudes towards health, social well being and ethics are all seemlessly woven into the narrative.
With its vivid imagery and delicate detail, this is a triumph of historical writing and a match for any contemporary story about social justice.
5.0 out of 5 stars illuminating, 4 Feb 2014
This review is from: St Bartholomew’s Man (Kindle Edition)
Very evocative, takes you deep into a long and distant past- atmospheric and engaging all at the same time, you can almost feel the weather
4.0 out of 5 stars Origins of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, 7 April 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: St Bartholomew’s Man (Kindle Edition)
This is an absorbing novel about monastic life in the middle ages; and the interaction of religion and authority in days when conditions were so harsh they are difficult to comprehend.A number of emotional cameo stories are woven into the central theme of Raheres’s vision of St Bartholomew requesting him to build a hospital.A good read.