Friday, October 10, 2008
About the book:
Born with the face of an angel, Marget Barnardsen is blessed. Her father is a knight and now she is to be married to the Earl of Lytham. Her destiny is guaranteed...at least, it would seem so. But when her introduction to court goes awry and Queen Elizabeth despises her, Marget fears she's lost her husband forever. Desperate to win him back, she'll do whatever it takes to discover how she failed and capture the love of a man bound to the queen.
First, let me say that the cover is the most beautiful historical fiction cover I have ever seen. Second, I don't recommend reading this book if there are a lot of distractions. To get the full effect of the author's voice and the setting you need to be in a place where your concentration is not easily broken. Do this and you'll get sucked right in. I had to set aside blocks of time read to this book because it's not the kind where you can just read a page here and there. Once I got a chance to really read it, I became distressed that I had to wait to finish it. But life gets busy. At any rate, this book kept calling me to read it and that rarely happens to me with books, which is why I gave it five + stars.
Siri writes real thoughts and real life. The ugliness of that time...black plague, people being quartered and beheaded, etc. was not glossed over, nor was it written for shock value. It was simply told truthfully and that made the setting feel more real to me. Someone mentioned there being less content about God and faith than in secular novels. I disagree. I saw more content with a spiritual thread than is even found in some CBA fiction. However, the content was limited to the era and thus constrained by the culture. To write a viewpoint much different from how Siri wrote it, well, that would not have worked and would have blow the author's credibility. She had to show the way it really was.
I found this story very romantic as well. At first I wanted to smack Lytham around, but Siri redeemed him well. He became quite the hero, but was still flawed. Some of the marital conflict was hilarious and overall quite entertaining. I could feel their emotion and it was fabulously written. The love scenes were realistic, too, but tastefully done.
I despised the older woman who was continually advising Marget. And what happened with Lytham's former wife was simply tragic. Marget was innocent and the advice given nearly ruined her. The grieving she experienced was so real to me that I cried for Marget several times. It wasn't a heavy, lingering feeling from her pain, though, because I had not experienced the same thing. But I could identify with her. And like in the story about the Titanic, where you know the ship will sink, I kept reading with the anxious feeling of knowing that the cosmetics were poisoning her and I couldn't stop her from returning to court. I totally bought into the tension in this story.
Siri always makes me think about our culture and other cultures when she writes. I could see how women over the centuries have done just about anything to look beautiful. I found that concept fascinating and told many people about this story because of it. What a great premise! I'd always wondered why courtiers had such a high rate of infertility. If you wanted to be a mother, chances were better if you stayed far away from the queen and her court.
I also found the portrayal of Queen Elizabeth to be very well done. There was so much richness and depth to this story, I could go on for hours. But in short, the definition of love and faithfulness is explored in detail in A Constant Heart, and the way the author showed the many different perspectives was nothing short of brilliant. If you love realistic historical fiction that is honest and contains some edgy content, you'll want to devour this book!