Reviewing this book was a bit of a struggle for me. I love historical fiction, and this time period in particular, but I love my historical tales to be realistic and gritty. So why did I choose to read ‘A Widow’s Tale’? Well, the (original) blurb reads as though this is a tale of adventure, of conflict, of the horrors of living through a time when war was literally on your doorstep. Indeed, the author says at the beginning of the book that she hopes to give an insight into the lives of ordinary men and women. But this book isn’t really a historical drama; in fact it reads more like a historical romance.
There are certainly some very good aspects to this novel. Paula C Moss can write. The historical details are good, and the settings are described well. Charlotte has real potential as a character. The situation she finds herself in – widowed, pursued by her late husband’s creepy brother, conned out of her land – are all issues that real women faced and her resilience, stubbornness and humour add a warmth and depth to the story. However, if this was a historical drama, then a character like that would be desperately trying to carve out a life as an independent woman, railing against authority, seething with pent up frustration at the inequality and unfairness of it all. But with Charlotte, these characteristics are simply a reason for her doing stupidly dangerous things and getting into scrapes from which she has to be rescued by the hero who alternately patronises her or punishes her.
There are places where the writing really shines, showing that, given a polish, this book could be so much more. Unfortunately, the text is full of typos, spelling mistakes that become annoying (steal and steel both used incorrectly for example, and repeated use of door jam instead of door jamb). Punctuation is used incorrectly, and there are capital letters where there shouldn’t be. This novel needs a thorough proofread.
It’s obvious that the writer loves her characters and is invested in her story, and that she has taken a great deal of care over the historical aspects of the novel. However ultimately, as a reader, I was left wondering what the book was really about and what it was trying to achieve.
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