Top critical review
4 stars for the story, 1 star of the Torc/Tempus (2008) edition
on 25 June 2017
First things First: I need to address the 2008 Paperback Torc edition:
Good Lord, the Torc edition has so many typos! I, at first, was laying the blame on the author, thinking that this was just some self-publishing amateur that couldn’t be bothered to proof-read her work, and the Daily Telegraph praise was either a lie or that reviewer was very forgiving – but (nope) Nora Lofts has been dead since 1983, was a bestseller in her time, and this book was originally published in 1969. As luck would have it I found a first edition at a boot sale for 25p, and purchasing that and comparing the two editions it's clear the fault lies entirely with Torc. For goodness sake, Chapter two beginnings with a misspelling of the country (“Denamark” – really?!) and a clearly missing ‘and’ on the blurb, not to mention characters names are spelt differently from time-to-time. The frequency did seem to lessen further in - unless I was becoming blind to it. Finally, it’s not just the typos, it’s also the layout that is messed up.
Yet, despite all that…
It’s a story that grew on me as it went on, mostly because it took some getting used to, as it is written in the omniscient 3rd person (the ‘Godlike’ perspective where you dip in and out of multiple characters minds), a writing style that was more common back when this book was first published than it is today. At first, the number of minor characters that get an internal voice felt a bit cluttered, but those seemingly useless threads do weave together as the momentum picks up. It also packs a lot of story in those 280 pages and doesn’t fluff it with pointless scenes that we can instead interpret through the interactions of the characters; on that note, it’s tasteful in its descriptions, no ‘bodice-ripping’ sex scenes here, wasting paragraphs with titillating details – sometimes less is more.
All in all, it’s not the best historical fiction I’ve read, but it was still very readable, once the momentum picked up and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a quick, tasteful book: just get an earlier edition or the Kindle version, which, judging from the preview, hasn’t got the same problems as the Torc paperback.