Monday, 16 April 2012

Book Review: The Traitor's Wife


Martha Allen, a young woman reviled by her family because of her refusal to marry, is packed off to be a servant in her cousin's home. She takes charge of the neglected household and annoys everyone around her - including a mysterious Welshman who works for the family, a man whose forceful nature matches her own.  As Martha comes to know him, she falls in love - and the two begin a courtship that suits their independent natures. But in the rugged new world they inhabit, danger is ever present, whether from the London assassins out for bounty, or the wolves - in many forms - who hunt for blood. 

When I first read the description of Kathleen Kent's novel The Traitor's Wife (originally published as The Wolves of Andover), I was really excited to start reading it. In my opinion, the synopsis made it sound like a really cool historical novel packed with mystery! While the basic storyline of The Traitor's Wife was good, I was disappointed, however, to find that it wasn't as  mysterious or gripping as I had hoped. Due to my unfamiliarity with King Charles and the political strife surrounding his reign, I also sometimes found the historical aspects of the novel a bit difficult to follow. On a few occasions I even turned to Google in order to clarify some of the background history surrounding the story. 

I also wasn't a big fan of the amount of time split between Martha's story and that of the London assassins. While I could see why the viewpoint of the assassins was important, I found that their part in the plot dragged on for longer then was necessary. Every other chapter was dedicated to the assassins' journey, and all I really wanted to read about was Martha. The chapters focusing on Martha's story were captivating and I constantly found myself wanting to know more about her and Thomas. 

On a more positive note, I found it fascinating that the story of Martha Carrier was actually based on the author's own ancestor! Kathleen Kent previously published another book, called The Heretic's Daughter, which focuses on Martha later in life when she is charged with witchcraft in Salem. Ironically enough I actually own a copy of The Heretic's Daughter, which I picked up from a used book sale but haven't read yet! I'm glad that I ended up reading The Traitor's Wife first now that I know it acts as a prequel to Martha's story! 

Overall, while I wasn't blown away by The Traitor's Wife, it was still a pretty fascinating story. It certainly peaked my interest about King Charles and Cromwell! Despite the fact that I was somewhat disappointed by this book, I'm definitely going to make sure that I find the time to read the rest of Martha's story in The Heretic's Daughter. After becoming somewhat attached to her in The Traitor's Wife, I want to find out how she ends up being charged and killed for witchcraft during the Salem trials! I would recommend this book to fans of historical fiction, and  those with a particular interest in the English Civil War, as they will probably find the storyline regarding Thomas Carrier particularly interesting! 

Rating: 2.5 Stars

6 comments:

Ikhlas said...

Aww that's too bad that you didn't end up loving it! I too get distracted by multiple voices, especially if some of them aren't relevant to the main storyline.

Let me know how you like the The Heretic's Daughter! Hopefully it'll be better :)

Jenny said...

I like historical fiction but I like it a lot better when it's about something I care about.

Uomo di Speranza said...

Oh, bad subject matter choice on the part of the author. My education of it has led me to believe that it's one of those events that one really must know the complexities of to understand as a whole. Unfortunately, this novel gets wrapped up in the complexities.

Chelsey said...

I love that you are able to take a book that didn't blow you away and still write a fair and positive sounding review! I totally agree with you about historical novels being occasionally hard to follow. Google is my BFF when I am reading something that claims historical accuracy, as certain eras are totally mishmashed in my mind lol.
Great review Nat =).

Natalie said...

Ikhalas: Ya, I've heard a lot of more positive things about The Heretic's Daughter so I'm hoping that it is better!

Uomo: It certainly was pretty complex! I never learned about that in history class!

Chelsey: Aw thanks Chels! Different eras are definitely mishmashed in my mind too sometimes!

Shoshanah said...

If you're looking for a good book about the King Charles II's reign. I'd recommend Jean Plaidy's The Loves of Charles II's. It's actually 3 of her books packaged into one, so there's a lot of details in it and it covers a lot of ground. It was the first book I remembering reading on his reign, and basically made me fall in love with that time period.

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