The Silvered Heart is a historical fiction where a legend of a Wicked Lady (a 17th century highwaywoman) and the real woman from the past, Katherine Ferrers, who is associated to the legend, is weaved into a story. The cover image you see here to the left (click to visit book’s Goodreads page) is different to the paperback copy I received via Bookbridgr. The copy I have is an early reading copy, and I much more like the cover I held in between my hands. But, but… beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
So, what can you expect from this book? Plenty! I find I have this newly found love for historical fiction and The Silvered Heart delivered beautifully. A story set around a legend of the Wicked Lady, a highway woman who due to circumstances (a civil war, the high and mighty falling into poverty, power struggles) takes to the life of thieving to get by.
Overall reading experience was very good. The story was nice and flowy, it did not stall and moved across the times and years with a good pace. There was no plotholes, and all the political turmoil of England was covered well and without overwhelming the reader.
Also, not to sound morbid, but every good historical fiction comes with a good measure of betrayal, heartbreak and drama- all those aspects are covered in The Silvered Heart. So, if you’re perhaps looking for a read full of fluffy silken skirts being tainted by charming Princes, then move along! This is a book about a tough, if somewhat lost, woman and even tougher, feckless and selfish men. There are thoughts of a woman’s duty to her husband and whether God or the Devil himself really have any say at all in a person’s life.
The writing style was good in a sense that it helped me live into the 17th century setting well enough, even if at times I was rolling my eyes, thinking- what a bunch of ignorant snobs! Also, the theme around religion, as is the norm for these times is something I always tend to squeeze past in a manner of “I read, but I switch off!”, but that’s just me- I just don’t do this Church/JC/God thing.
Anyway, to give you a short overview- Katherine is an orphan who marries her “cousin” Thomas Fanshawe and it is a loveless union where Thomas gains by Katherine’s heritage. One thing leads to another- she said, he said, she doesn’t deliver, he doesn’t deliver and you have a recipe for a quarrelsome home. Rachel is Katherine’s maid and friend and becomes a chesspiece at a certain point which I cannot reveal due to it being a spoiler. Rachel’s brother Rafe seems to fill in the empty spaces in Kate’s life in the role of a lover and a highway partner. And, during all this- we have Sir Richard Willis. What is he like?! I still wonder…
Even after finishing the book I still have so many questions about Willis- his relationship with Kate is something of a mystery to me. He came across as a selfish man yet reasonable man, but maybe that was the author’s intention- to let the reader fill in the blanks as per their own wishes. I have a quite a romantic view of the motives Willis was acting by towards the end of the book. But who knows…
Kate… a well written character. She frustrated me to my wit’s end at times. In my mind I called her a cruel, stupid and a greedy woman. Then I changed my mind and found her simply ambitious. She then surprised me by being hard working and levelheaded. Then I just thought her to be inexperienced and immature. I even labelled her with words such as disillusioned and crazy. But such is the way with women, eh? We want it, we get it, we don’t want it anymore and then we are confused. On that account her character is well developed keeping in mind that there isn’t many records of her true life’s events or that of her personality. The fictional story around her character paints a picture to me of a woman who simply does what she finds to be the best thing to do, yet I am not able to make up my mind whether I find her character to be mentally weak or strong. She seems to be dangling somewhere in between.
The silvered heart is a physical symbol Kate carries with her- given to her by the Queen when Kate was still a young child in the Queen’s care. A heartshaped pendant. I wonder, if this pendant would not have been in Kate’s possession would her choices, her whole life, have been different? I found the symbol to be of little importance to the story in the overall sense and yet it seemed to have power over the decisions Kate made.