Friday, April 20, 2012

The Sumerton Women by D.L. Bogdan

Title: The Sumerton Women
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.

*** *** ***


I'm thrilled to offer a copy of The Sumerton Women to one lucky reader. To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US and international readers. Ends 5/11.


  1. I love DL's writing. This sounds like a good book with the foster sibling rivalry.

    1. I can so see why she has such a legion of fans -- this was a great book -- wildly fun. The sibling rivalry isn't exactly what one might imagine, either, which is why I so enjoyed it -- this more than noblewoman jostling for the hottest courtier!

  2. Another great review, Audra. I'm also tired of all the attention the Tudor era gets in historical fiction, but still find myself reading about it, especially if, like this one, the story focuses on lesser known historical or fictional figures. This one is on my wish list so I'm glad it's worth reading.

    1. Melissa -- this is one worth getting as the Tudor connection is vague -- it's set during the Tudor era -- but there's no courtier drama but rather resultant drama coming from Henry's reforms. Really fascinating, with enough sordid excitement to keep the story junky fun!

  3. I am tired of them too, but if you say it's good then i will listen

    1. Blodeuedd -- super readable and a unique Tudor angle -- trust me, this one is worth picking up! It's a religious drama that isn't religious, so to speak, looking at the impact of Henry's religious changes. Really fun.

  4. I'd love to read it, thanks! New follower btw :)

    Disincentive @ (read, watch, listen) - reviews

    1. Thanks for the follow! I'm checking out your blog now!

  5. Tudor and Gothic plot twists...I could have a serious love-hate relationship with this one. Count me in, thanks.

  6. I'm still not tired of The Tudors. Lol. I really enjoyed this book as well and even though Mirabella was so nasty I mostly just felt sorry for her.

  7. I haven't read any of her books yet but they have received very good reviews and they are some of the Tudor fiction that I would be interested in right now. I have become tired of the tried and true Henry and his wives stories but I don't mind looking at the period from a different angle with a different main cast of characters. I will have to put this on my list. Thanks for the review.