Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Historical Review: The Sumerton Women

I recently had the pleasure of reading another book by D.L. Bogdan--The Sumerton Women.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading her first two Tudor era novels, which I reviewed here: Secrets of the Tudor Court and Rivals in the Tudor Court.  Her third Tudor book, does not disappoint. I highly recommend it.


Orphaned at age eight, Lady Cecily Burkhart becomes the ward of Harold Pierce, Earl of Sumerton. Lord Hal and his wife, Lady Grace, welcome sweet-natured Cecily as one of their own. With Brey, their young son, Cecily develops an easy friendship. But their daughter, Mirabella, is consumed by her religious vocation - and by her devotion to Father Alec Cahill, the family priest and tutor. As Henry VIII's obsession with Anne Boleyn leads to violent religious upheaval, Mirabella is robbed of her calling and the future Cecily dreamed of is ripped away in turn. Cecily struggles to hold together the fractured household while she and Father Alec grapple with a dangerous mutual attraction. Plagued with jealousy, Mirabella unleashes a tumultuous chain of events that threatens to destroy everyone around her, even as the kingdom is torn apart...


Once again, Ms. Bogdan had taken her readers on an emotional journey. The Sumerton Women is full of vibrant characters, each with their own set of inner demons. Demons that reach out and touch those around them, causing all sorts of conflict and strife.

The Sumerton Women is a foray into human trials and tribulations. The story starts of with the young Cecily at her home. She is trying to cope (albeit unsuccessfully) with the death of her parents. Having lost her siblings, she is the only one left of her family. She remains hidden away in her mother's wardrobe until Father Alec, the priest who tutors Lord Sumerton's children comes to retrieve her. She will be taken in by the Sumerton household as their ward. He shows her that life can be worth living, and that she just might have something to look forward to in the future. They form a bond over mutual loss--a bond that does not make her guardian's daughter--Mirabella--happy at all.

And poor Cecily, whose seemed to carve out a decent life for herself, deals with more tragedy. Secrets kept long buried are unearthed in the face of the calamity that will change her life--and in so doing changes the lives of all, releasing a trail of disaster.

This story takes place within the court of Henry VIII--a time of political and religious unrest. The king breaks from Rome and sets aside Queen Catherine in order to marry Anne Boleyn. This bit alone puts those within the Sumerton household at odds.

I liked that we were able to view the story from the eyes of each character. It really gives us a better understanding of each of their vices, their conflicts, their motivations. As always, Ms. Bogdan did an excellent job with the historical backdrop. She put us right into 16th century Tudor England, replete with current events, historical figures, the language, style, etc.... 

In an era where drama is an everyday occurrence, and jealousy and suspicion rules the minds of many, catastrophe is bound to reign supreme. The Sumerton Women is a superb, gripping narrative of passion, ire, resentment, loss, sinful vices, friendship and love. A real heart-wrencher. Read it!

Don't forget to come back tomorrow for History Undressed's interview with D. L. Bogdan, and a chance to win a copy of The Sumerton Women! 

1 comment:

Beth Trissel said...

This looks absolutely fabulous and right up my ally! The cover is as sumptuous as the book sounds. A big high five from me.