Reading an historical novel as a woman entrenched in feminist beliefs is a challenge. You want the hero(ine)s to succeed against the entrenched patriarchal beliefs even though you know that likelihood is zilch. I imagine writing such a novel is equally frustrating because of the limitations of historical accuracy.
Colonial wives and lives curbed
Dawson, however, empathetically strides alongside her two colonial wives as they grapple with the understanding that their gender renders them silent in the decisions about life. Even in the sphere of domestic and cultural pursuits, their production is monitored and curbed by husbands and society’s beliefs.
Violet’s past haunts her while her ambitious husband bullies her almost into submission. Anna has a more magnanimous husband and her rebellion is less dramatic than Violet’s.
The character of Rupert is developed through the eyes of the two women and Anna’s husband. I felt this hampered a full rounding out of a charming man bent on self-destruction.
I loved the book, but I felt that Dawson hurried the conclusion. Although the plot ends are tied up nicely, by using a jump forward in time, I believe that a little more unfolding of the story could well keep the reader enthralled.