The Sumerton Women by D.L. Bogdan
Author: D.L. Bogdan
Genre: Fiction (Historical / Tudors / Reformation / Sibling Relationships / Marriage)
Publisher/Publication Date: Kensington Publishing (4/24/2012)
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Rating: Okay to liked.
Did I finish?: I did, very quickly.
One-sentence summary: The rise and fall, loves and hates, of two strong-willed women during Henry VIII's reign.
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction
Do I like the cover?: I do -- it captures exactly what the two main characters look like. Although they're both a bit scowl-y for me, I do love seeing their faces!
I'm reminded of...: Philippa Gregory
First line: She hid in her mother's wardrobe.
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy, if you like fast-paced and easy-to-sink-into hist fic.
Why did I get this book?: I've heard nothing but praise for Bogdan's books.
Review: I'm a bit of a broken record, but I'm tired of the Tudors. However, this Tudor fic entertained me with its focus on one family's response to Henry VIII's break with Rome. The Sumerton clan, seemingly blessed with love, health, and wealth, is actually wracked with secrets and guilt and pain. Cecily Burkhart, orphaned at 8, moves in with the Sumertons and finds herself mostly happily with her new family. Quickly, however, she sees their sunny facades hide real tragedy, made worse when Henry VIII makes himself head of a new church in England.
I really loved this Tudor angle, and for a book that has a huge religious bent to it, the story is neither overly philosophical or cheese-ily inspirational. In fact, there's a crazy tawdriness to the plot twists, reminding me a bit of Phillipa Gregory, with [spoiler here so don't read on if you want to be surprised!!] the heroine marrying her foster father, a beloved priest marrying his student.
My only complaint, perhaps, is that our heroine, Cecily, was a bit much for me -- she was one of those preternaturally gorgeous heroines that everyone responds to, smart and sweet and gentle and talented -- so I found myself rolling my eyes every time she swept on stage. She was such a pill I actually found myself rooting for the arch-villainess, Mirabella, her foster sister. The plot twists and dramatic developments were non-stop, and for me, a bit discomforting although potentially historically accurate.
As escapist historical fiction, this is a winner: the drama is non-stop. I don't know if any of these characters are based on historical figures, or just inventions of Bogdan, but I really loved this angle of Tudor fic, even if the plot twists verged on Gothic. The writing style is great -- easy, breezy, fun -- and I was sucked in immediately. I can't attest to the historical accuracy but for speed and escapism, this one doesn't fail.
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