The Silvered Heart, Katherine Clements
Genre: Adult Fiction, Historical.
I like to mix and match my reading according to my mood, and sometimes I like to dip into a historical. I’m more familiar with fiction from the 1000s to 1500s, especially the Tudor period , and the English Civil War setting was new to me. I’d not heard either of the tale of legendary Highwaywoman Katherine Ferrers.
We start with Katherine on the way to her wedding, held up by highwaymen. Events happen there that mean she is forced into action to save her group. That make a big impression upon her. I wonder how far it led to her learning what she needed to do for herself and those she felt responsible for. She’s little more than a child at just 14 but that’s regarded as old enough back then, for marriage to secure family inheritances. Its a tough time for everybody, with the country in turmoil and the changes that have been forced on it’s people. No one really knows what to do next, who best to support and there’s danger at every turn, imprisonment or death as a traitor if they make the wrong choice. Scary stuff, and so hard to imagine how life was, where those who had been rich lost everything, and those who had nothing were still in poverty. The ideals may have been sound but like always putting them into action and sorting out the moralist from the power hungry is never straightforward. The power/corruption debate has raged for many centuries…
Katherine finds marriage not what she imagined, though being orphaned at a young age she didn’t really know what to expect. We see her life getting more and more desperate, with a husband away much of the time, and money for the household being non existent. Its not a happy marriage, and increasingly she does things that are more and more dangerous. Would she have gone that route of danger if her husband had been different? If the household were not starving? If there was another way open to her? Who knows, but she seems to feel there’s a darkness in her that makes her choose the danger. I don’t know – in a way I admired her for taking control. Still, without the unceasing help of Martha, daughter of the man who now lived in her family home, afforded by his help to Cromwell, things would have turned out very, very different.
What I love about historical novels is feeling I’m there, living life with the people of the time. Somehow here it didn’t work that way for me, and I’m not sure why. I felt for Katherine at times but she wasn’t really ( to me) a likeable person, had an arrogance about her typical of those who grow up with money, and that came through in her early relationship with Rachel. She seems to feel Rachel should be grateful for her position as her maid, never looking at life from her viewpoint. Then again, no-one did then ( or now!!) You were either one class or the other. Her views changed a bit over the years as she was forced more and more into seeing what lack of money did for a family. Its a strange read, there were times I really felt for her, and times when I felt she was really arrogant and uncaring. I did so want things to work out from a romance side, I guess I’m just a romantic softy, and there was a point where I found something really heart-breaking.
I think what I got most from this book was a sense of how tough life was for everyone during this time, how people did things they maybe would not have if times were different, how circumstance can make any of us do things we’d not other-wise. The worry over which to support, King, as you’d been brought up but then lose everything, including possibly your life, or Cromwell and Co and go against what you maybe believe. Or for those who think the equality route was coming with Cromwell, the despair when families were still left with nothing. The wondering who to trust, never knowing if that person was really working for the other side. Its a scary thought.
Though I enjoyed this book, and it made me think a lot and wonder about the “what if’s” its not a story I’d read again. I liked the kind of full circle ending, though there were some really sad parts too.
Stars: Five, a book I really enjoyed but a one off read for me.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers
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