Wednesday, 27 June 2018

The Corsican Widow by Vanessa Couchman

Reviewer: Liza Perrat, author of The Bone Angel trilogy (Spirit of Lost Angels, Wolfsangel, Blood Rose Angel) and new release, The Silent Kookaburra.

What we thought: I really enjoyed Vanessa Couchman’s first historical novel set on the island of Corsica: The House at Zaronza, and her second, The Corsican Widow, was just as enjoyable.

It follows the story of a young woman, Valeria, just before her arranged marriage to a much older man. This marriage, in which she is expected to cater to her husband’s every wish, and to provide him with children, will remove her from family and friends and everything she has ever known. So when, despite Valeria’s best efforts, he dies, she finds herself a lonely, isolated widow, trapped in the chains of the traditions of the customary bereavement period.

Valeria is strong, tenacious and craving independence in a time when attitudes to women were so very different from today. This provides for an emotional roller-coaster of a story as we share with Valeria her widowed plight.

Via well-researched historical detail, descriptive settings –– the herb-scented hill paths, the stone forts, the fountains and village squares –– and skilled characterisation, the author cleverly evokes the customs and traditions of 18th-century Corsica, and the Corsicans’ fight for independence.

After reading The Corsican Widow, I feel I know a lot more about the history of the island, and especially the traditional, archaic and cruel attitudes towards women. This all helps the reader to empathise with Valeria and to fight her seemingly impossible battles alongside her, all the way.

I highly recommend this beautifully-written and engaging story for lovers of Historical Fiction.

You’ll like this if you enjoy: well-documented historical fiction exploring the timeless themes of love and emotion.

Avoid if you don’t like: women in submission. Archaic treatment of women

Ideal accompaniments: Tommette de Chèvre – a full-flavoured goat milk cheese, accompanied by a rustic Corsican red wine.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Available on Amazon

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