Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Review: Philippa Carr’s KNAVE OF HEARTS – A Story of Growing Up in France Before the Revolution and Finding a Love Thought Lost
I'm taking a break from my Favorite Heroes & Heroines to review a book by Philippa Carr, the historical romance author you may know as Victoria Holt (also a pen name). This is #10 in her 20-book “Daughters of England” series, but can be read as a stand alone.
Set in the late 18th century, beginning in England in 1767, it tells of beautiful Charlotte d'Aubigne (“Lottie”) who, when she was twelve, learned her real father was a French comte and her home was to be in France. She does not want to leave her beloved English home nor does she want to leave “Dickon”, the boy she has always adored and wanted to marry. But she is young and her English mother and French father decide Dickon is not the best choice. So they take her away to Louis XV's France and to her father’s great estate.
As the years pass, Lottie forgets her youth and becomes emerged in all things French and the tumultuous times that follow the American War. New love comes to her in the person of Charles de Tourville, a man who, though inconstant, loves Lottie. But he wants to fight for America’s liberty, so encouraged by Dickon (who has been a constant guest), Charles leaves Lottie in France with their two children and goes off to fight. Lottie is consoled by her family and her friend, Lisette, a bastard like herself.
This is a story steeped in the tumultuous history of the times and provides a tale of jealousy and betrayal on many levels. Lottie has a very practical nature that allows her to change from her idealistic youth to a mature acceptance of the weaknesses in others. And coming full circle, she returns to England for a visit where Dickon still remembers her.
If you like Victoria Holt’s mysteries, this might appeal. It did to me. Told from the first person, you are always only in Lottie’s mind but you know the thoughts of others as they reveal them. I liked the detail and the complicated relationships but the romance was a bit disappointing, possibly because neither Charles nor Dickon was a compelling hero. (It seemed both were knaves.) And the passion seemed to be more on their part than Lottie’s. A more compelling figure was her father, the comte. Still, it’s a very good read and there are some exciting scenes as the country moves toward the Revolution.