Wednesday 28 November 2012

Sovay by Celia Rees

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Published: 19th August 2008
Pages: 420
When the rich and beautiful Sovay isn't sitting for portraits, she's donning a man's cloak and robbing travellers in broad daylight. But in a time when political allegiances between France and England are strained, a rogue bandit is not the only thing travellers fear. Spies abound, and rumours of sedition can quickly lead to disappearances. So when Sovay lifts the wallet of one of England's most powerful and dangerous men, it's not just her own identity she must hide, but that of her father. A dazzling historical saga in which the roles of thieves and gentry, good and bad, and men and women are interchanged to riveting effect.

Again, this is a book for my dissertation so I read it trying to focus on the historical context aspects of the novel. But even reading for analytical purposes, Sovay was a great book full of great detail and brilliant descriptions that really bought you back to 1795.

Sovay was a fantastic heroine, if a bit whiny. Stuck in a time when ladies did not do much more than parade themselves around parties and gardens, Sovay becomes a highwayman to be something different and feel useful in this dangerous world of revolution. With so many other characters to interact with, from all sorts of backgrounds, Sovay moves through London and Paris society, learning all the while more secrets about her own family and her government that threaten not just her own but all the aristocracy way of life.

As an avid reader of both young adult and historical fiction I thought I'd whiz through this, but I didn't. I'm not sure whether the incredible detail was the reason or whether there were so many characters I was getting confused. Don't get me wrong, it's still a great book but you do have to persevere quite a bit. A novel of great ambition, sometimes I think it took on a little too much. Bringing in all the historical context and politics was one thing, but adding in Gothic elements, romance and mystery, and you can see why I got a little confused! There were several plot lines that fizzled to nothing and some that appeared out of nowhere - mostly the romantic ones actually. But I was reading it for the history, which did not disappoint.

All in all, a book that has led to some contradicting opinions but I really liked it and bottom line, I read this for my dissertation and it is great for that!

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