Aristocrat. Heiress. Highwaywoman.
Orphaned heiress, Katherine Ferrers is forced to enter into a loveless marriage in order to save her family from penury and hardship. The marriage turns out to be a loveless affair and rather than save her family, Katherine sees their fortunes forfeit and her own life increasingly intolerable. When she is offered a way out she seizes the opportunity and even though the future is faced with extreme danger, anything is preferable to the life she is living with a profligate and uncaring husband.
Set against the backdrop of the English civil war and in the early years of the interregnum, this story abounds with danger and treachery and yet, always keeps at its heart, a feisty and determined young woman who seeks to protect herself in the only way she can.
I really enjoyed this novel and was impressed with the clever way the story brings history alive, particularly in the challenges faced by the English aristocracy in the uncertain years of civil war, when to be on the wrong side politically meant certain ruin. Katherine is perhaps less typical of the women of her generation, but parts of the story of a legendary highwaywoman, have a foothold in folklore, so maybe this 'wicked lady' was as feisty as she is portrayed in this version of her life, either way, the novel makes for fascinating reading.
The author has a comfortable writing style and is able to conjure time and place quite perfectly. I felt like I was experiencing the challenges of being a woman alone in a man's world and understood why Katherine was forced to take up the challenge of her own protection.
In the author's debut novel, The Crimson Ribbon, we had the parliamentarian side of the political argument of the civil war. In The Silvered Heart it is interesting to read about the other side of the story in this aristocratic view of life in England once the King had been executed. It tells of the indignity of an extreme change in fortune and of how some aristocratic families went, quite literally from riches to rags overnight.
This is a praise worthy second novel by an author who clearly loves writing historical fiction. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.
My thanks to Caitlin Raynor at Headline for my review copy of this novel.