by Siri Mitchell
Publication date: October 2008
I received A Constant Heart by Siri Mitchell through Library Thing Early Reviewers.
The story opens with the main character, Marget, talking to her best friend, Joan, about her upcoming marriage to the Earl of Lytham. It’s an arranged marriage, and they haven’t met each other. It’s during the last decade of the sixteenth century during the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
Unfortunately for Marget, Lytham was betrayed by his beautiful wife and only wants Marget for her dowry. Her beautiful visage repels Lytham.
Lytham is a courtier in the royal court and only wishes to gain the queen’s favor to get out of his current financial situation brought on by the gambling of his now-deceased-brother. Marget, never having been to court, must learn all the intricacies of a courtier, from dying her hair to painting her face with a lead-based concoction. She thinks she has a friend in a Lady de Winter, but is too dense to see past the “help” the Lady de Winter is offering.
Despite Lytham’s misgivings, he falls in love with Marget, but the first few years of their marriage is frought with misunderstandings, an insecurity in their tender love, and a belief that his wife would betray him on the part of Lytham.
The author must have done an amazing amount of research on speech, clothes, and the royal court. The dialogue seems true to the time period, giving it a Shakesperean feel (though admittedly easier to read). One thing the author did that was interesting was she alternated narrators. Marget would narrate and then Lytham, giving the reader almost full knowledge of what was going on, what the misunderstandings were, really leaving the reader with nothing to guess at.
While this is categorized as Christian fiction, the religious/spiritual references were only a blip. The sexual scenes were not graphic, and I didn’t have to skip over anything. 😉
I’ll admit to being enthralled while I was reading. I’ve slurped up all of Philippa Gregory’s books and have done a fair amount of research on this time period. Unfortunately, though, this book doesn’t give the reader much to chew on. Most conflict is resolved fairly quickly, and it’s a fairly short book to begin with.
To sum it all up, let me just say this: It was good but not great.
Rating: 85 out of 100
You can check out the author’s website here.