Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Review of Daughters of Summer by Sara Conway

I read Conway’s first Lord Godwin mystery Murder on Good Friday and enjoyed it enough that I didn’t hesitate when I saw her second novel, Daughters of Summer.

I should’ve hesitated longer.

Murder on Good Friday actually had a basis in historical fact, young boys being murdered on Good Friday to focus blame on the local Jewish population in thirteenth century England. Nothing like that in Daughters of Summer, in which a wealthy merchant is poisoned shortly after learning his wife is being unfaithful. Suspicion immediately falls on the old man who gave the merchant herbs for a stomach ailment, the villagers thinking he made a simple mistake.

Unfortunately, most of the novel focuses on Lord Godwin’s relationship with the Lady Constance. The cunning Fulk d’ Oily (how’s that for a bad guy’s name?) is determined to marry her, despite her refusals.

The mystery takes a back seat to the adventures of Lady Constance and Godwin figures out the mystery only when he overhears an unrelated remark.

Since he has no proof, he’s content to let the matter be. The conclusion almost seems to be an afterthought by the author, as if she suddenly realized Daughters was a mystery, not a medieval romance.

The author’s writing style also makes this book a difficult read, e.g. changes in point of view from one character to another within a scene, telling instead of showing. It’s enough to put me off reading any more of Conway’s work.

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