Thursday, May 10, 2018

Book review of The Corsican Widow by Vanessa Couchman

French Village Diaries book review The Corsican Widow Vanessa Couchman
The Corsican Widow by Vanessa Couchman

My review today is for The Corsican Widow by Vanessa Couchman, her second historical novel set on the French island of Corsica.
We follow the story of Valeria, meeting her just before her marriage to an older, wealthy widow; a situation she has no say in and one that will take her away from her friends and family, and most notably her younger brother. Set in the latter half of the 1700’s when Corsica was fighting for its independence from Genoa, it is a time when customs and traditions were very different to today and life, for women especially, was very austere.
Her role was to provide the comforts her husband required, to give him children (sons preferably) and to respect him and her family name at all times. After years of marriage and no babies, he becomes ill and despite her best efforts in providing herbal medicines for him, he dies. It is a lonely life for a young widow who has many boundaries; she must not leave the house for the first few years and she must never be seen with another man as to do so would bring shame on her husband’s name and on her family. However, a prophecy on the eve of her marriage seems to predict trouble, but does she have the power to resist?
Valeria is an independent woman, strong of spirit and caring towards those she meets. I admired her tenacity and fight and enjoyed my time with her, although there were many times when her situation seemed so bleak I was torn between not wanting to know what was coming next and not being able to put the book down! When her name is disgraced in the village she must accept the fate that is decided for her, even if her treatment by the village elders is unjust. I don’t want to say too much about her story, it’s best you discover it for yourself, but be warned, it was very emotional in places.
Through this book Vanessa has taught me a lot about Corsican history, their fight for independence and the customs and traditions of the time. It has made me even more determined to visit Corsica; to follow the paths Valeria took over the hills from village to village, to stand by a fountain in a village square and think about the Corsican women from hundreds of years ago fetching their water, to see the old stone forts built during the war for independence and to smell the herb scented hillsides. I feel I know the island a little better now than I did before.
This book would be a perfect read for those of you who enjoy historical fiction where the real trials of life in a different era are expertly woven around love and emotions that have changed little over the years.
The Corsican Widow is released today and is available in ebook and paperback format and links to Amazon can be found below.

You can read Vanessa’s #LazySundayinFrance post here, her #FranceetMoi interview here and my review of her first novel, The House at Zaronza here.

You can find Vanessa on these social media sites:
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