My Thoughts: Cecily Burkhart faces an uncertain future when she is left orphaned and alone at the age of eight after her family succumbs to the plague. Fortunately she is taken in by the Earl of Sumerton and his wife Lady Grace and soon makes fast friends with their children Brey and Mirabella. Although the two are as different as can be in temperament (Cecily is a happy good natured child, Mirabella is more stern and fanatically devoted to her religion) the two grow close. All three children thrive under the tutelage of Father Alec Cahill Things start to change at the Sumerton estate as the children grow older and tragedy strikes. It is then that the mettle of both women are tested as unexpected romance blooms, sorrow upon sorrow is visited upon the inhabitants of Sumerton, and devastating secrets are revealed.
This book surprised me a bit! There were so many significant and emotionally charged events occurring in this book that I flew right through it in anticipation of finding out what would happen to the characters. I took a liking to all of the characters at the beginning of the novel. Cecily's sweetness endeared her to me and I felt sympathy for Mirabella's struggles to choose her path-the religious life she hopes for or the life her family wants for her. Hal Sumerton is a kind but flawed man and his wife Lady Grace wrestles with her own demons as well.
The novel is set in the Tudor period during the great religious upheaval when King Henry VIII sets aside his first wife Katherine of Aragon and breaks with the Church of Rome so he can marry the much reviled Anne Boleyn. Although this book is set in Tudor times, the story focuses mainly on the many occurrences at the Sumerton estate. The author does a great job of giving background of what was happening during this time and who the main players were without making them the focal point of the novel which makes this book a good choice for someone who may not be so well versed in this period. Another thing that surprised me was the focus on religion in this novel. The character's feelings and relationship with God and changes occurring within the Church (the dissolution of the monasteries, the outing of heretics following the new religion) are all central themes. However, this topic is approached in a way that is completely non-preachy (which I appreciated) and was totally relevant to the story.
I had a few minor issues while reading. While I felt the author did an excellent job of showing both good and bad points in most of the characters the main character of Cecily was nothing but goodness through most of the novel. It seems everyone loves her and she handles many situations in the book with a maturity that belies her youth. While I wanted a good end for her, I also thought she would have seemed more convincing if she had a few more character flaws. Also there was one story arc concerning the reappearance of a certain character that I found to be a little far fetched. I did end up liking this character immensely though so I think that toned down my misgivings about this particular plot point. Despite these few little things I really liked this book. It is refreshing to read a book set in Tudor times but not about the Tudors and to follow the story of such a fascinating and conflicted family. This is a fun read to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon with.
This book was provided to me by the author for participation in her tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. These are my honest thoughts on the book.
And now for the giveaway! I am excited to be able to offer 1 copy of The Sumerton Women to one lucky reader!
Giveaway is open: Internationally
To enter: Leave your name and email address in the comments. One extra entry each will given for spreading the word about the giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog.
Giveaway ends: Midnight May 11th. Winner will be announced May 12th.
For more reviews and giveaway, and interviews/guest posts with author D.L. Bogdan you can view the schedule for the rest of the tour HERE.
About the author: D.L. Bogdan is an ongoing student of history, musician, and avid reader who enjoys travel, the outdoors, and time with her family and friends. She is a proud wife and mother who makes her home in central Wisconsin. She is the author of Secrets of the Tudor Court, Rivals in the Tudor Court and The Sumerton Women.
For more information on D.L. Bogdan and her novels, please visit her WEBSITE. You can also find her on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.
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