Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sisters of the Bruce



Back Cover Blurb

Set against the wild and perilous background of Scotland in the late 13th century, the adventurous lives of Robert the Bruce’s five sisters come to life through their own words in a series of letters. Courage and tenacity are often associated with Scotland’s great hero, but few appreciate the enormous challenges experienced by these remarkable sisters. Their intimate account of family life resonates still with love, loss and hope. 

Isa leaves home to sail to the land of the Vikings to become Queen of Norway whilst her sister, Kirsty, finds herself Countess of Mar and chatelaine of the great Kildrummy Castle in Scotland’s far northeast. Danger looms and the younger sisters, Mathilda and Margaret, escape to Orkney with Kirsty’s children. As Scotland spirals into war, Robert’s sisters face the wrath of King Edward of England, whose vengeance wrought the brutal death of William Wallace. Kirsty is incarcerated alone in an English nunnery, whilst Mary endures years of misery within a cage hanging from the walls of Roxburgh Castle. Under Robert’s kingship, old wounds heal and Scotland’s fighting force achieves a resounding victory at the Battle of Bannockburn. Only then are the fragile, traumatised women released, through the ransoming of English nobles, to return home to rebuild their shattered lives…

Review

Sisters of the Bruce recounts history through the eyes of Robert the Bruce's sisters as told through letters they sent among each other recounting their own personal experiences. It is evident the author has done a great deal of research into the era and working hard at getting the timeline of events as accurately as possible. The story is powerful and gave me a very strong feel for the desperation and perils of war as experienced by the people. It was an era of hardship and misery and this was clearly portrayed throughout the book. 

The fact that this was an expository novel, really appealed to me. And when the sisters wrote history through their own personal experiences and surroundings, I truly enjoyed the story. Sometimes, however, the novel turned dry when the character's point of view diminished into a textbook-like prose, and I struggled to keep interested. I think this novel would be better classified as "creative non-fiction" rather than "historical fiction". Nevertheless, this work is a very worthy read if only to understand the horrible treatment the women suffered as a result of the political climate and the harsh period in which they lived.