A Secret Alchemy by Emma Darwin.
A novel of two widows. One lived in the 1400's the other present day.
Elizabeth Woodville's first husband was killed in battle , her second husband was the ruling monarch, Edward 1V. She lives in troublesome times, the Wars of the Roses is at it's height and both Elizabeth and her brother are caught up in the intrigue and betrayal these battles create. She was the mother of the heir to the throne and the Duke of York , this status did not help her as she was cajoled into handing over her sons to enemies masquerading as friends.
Running parallel throughout the book one week in the life of Una Pryor. A professor, who is researching into the life of Elizabeth and the effect of the Wars of the Roses on the English people.
During this one week Una arrives from Australia , her new homeland. She is visiting England for research but more importantly to conclude her late husband's affairs in property and business. In undertaking this task she visits her adoptive family(both her parents having died many years before) and thereby opens up old wounds regarding their relationships.
These two stories show the loneliness and desolation that widows feel and highlight the importance of the family.
'Alchemy'--- 'a method of transmutting base metals into gold...'(Collins English Dictionary)
'True alchemy is more than melting gold. Even as the sinful human spirit is refined in holy fire,... so we alchemists refine base matter that it, too, may become the purest gold.And the touch of an anointed king...' page 306.
A great read, highly recommended.