Monday, February 6, 2017
Book Review: Silent Songbird
First sentence: Servants may marry whomever they want, but a king's ward has no freedom at all.
Premise/plot: Evangeline (Eva) is the ward of King Richard II. (The fictional ward of Richard II that is.) When she learns that she is going to be forced to marry an "old" man with thick lips, Lord Shiveley, she does something drastic: she runs away. Her maid, Muriel, comes with her--reluctantly. The two join a company of traveling men led by Westley le Wyse. Muriel tells everyone that her red-headed mistress is mute, and, that her muteness is a result of being beaten. Eva falls for Westley instantly. And oh how she wishes she could talk to him! Westley is attracted to her as well, and takes an interest in her welfare once they arrive at his parents' estate. This "servant" knows NOTHING about housework or fieldwork or work-work. (On her first day at "work," she almost kills someone!)
Westley and Eva come to bond--both before and after her muteness--over the Bible. It turns out that in 1384--a good number of years before Wycliffe's team translates the Bible into English--that Westley, or rather his family, owns TWO copies of the Bible: one in English and one in Latin. (I find this a bit far-fetched. The family might be closer to nobility than peasantry. But. I don't think Bibles were so common place--remember each copy would have had to have been hand-written--that every family would have owned their own.) But it does make for a convenient Christian romance--let's have a beautiful woman and a handsome man sitting together in the evenings meditating on Scripture!
There are two conflicts in this one. 1) Evangeline is being pursued by Lord Shiveley. The King himself promised Shiveley his ward's hand in marriage. And for the first hundred pages--or so--the only one who truly finds him repulsive is Eva. (Conveniently close to the end of the novel, it's revealed that he is an actual villain.) 2) Someone is trying to kill Westley. Only Eva can identify him. I believe this conflict exists mainly to give Eva motivation to SPEAK and to come clean with Westley about her past.
My thoughts: I liked this one. I didn't love, love, love it. But I liked it well enough. I think Westley is a great hero. Eva is an interesting heroine. I just wish that she'd started out a bit more mature. Her whining at the beginning of the novel--about how she could never, ever, ever marry Lord Shiveley because he was oh-so-old and just look at how thick his lips were! Ewwww!--irritated me a bit. In that way she did remind me of Ariel. And since this was supposed to be loosely based on Little Mermaid, I suppose that's okay!
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible