Sisters of the Bruce 1292-1314 –by J. M. Harvey
965 KB / 397 Pages
I love good historical fiction, and I love this book! I tremendously enjoyed that most of the story was told through the correspondence of the sisters of Robert the Bruce. Although my grandfather was genealogist of the family, and now his namesake and a cousin have taken on the mantle, I know little of the history of Scotland. One would think with all I've been privy to growing up, that I would have absorbed at least some of it. I did not even know that I am a distant relation to Robert the Bruce until my cousin told me, and showed me. I sort of knew who he (Robert) was, but only sort of. My historical interests lie elsewhere.
However, this book intrigued me, and I bought it (Kindle edition), and was reading it as my bedtime read. Today, I succumbed, and spent the better part of the afternoon on the sofa, and finished it. All of it. I read the Glossary, the notes--I read everything!
Scotland of the early 1300s is probably not a place I'd choose to live, but those who were there (by choice or by birth) were a hardy lot. The Bruce men were, for the most part, warriors, though one was also a scholar. The women were feisty and strong. This is not a novel about the sisters, per se; it is a novel about Robert as seen through the eyes of his sisters. It is about difficult times and hard survival. It is about family and loyalty. It is a mighty fine read!
When the oldest, Isa was taken to Norway to marry King Eric, she and her next younger sister, Kirsty began a correspondence that tells much of the story. It tells of their hardships, and it tells of the beauty they find in their marriages and situations. It tells of war and the hardships endured by the women who are unwilling witnesses. Did the sisters actually correspond? I haven't a clue; however, it was not only possible, but plausible.
When the English, with the help of duplicitous Scots, capture Kirsty and Mary, two of the sisters, and Marjorie, Robert's young daughter, and Elizabeth, his wife, the letters obviously take a turn. Those not captured escape to Orkney, under protection of Norway.
How those women survived is beyond my ken! Obviously they had the choice to survive or to die, but they survived some of the most brutal hardships imaginable, much of which comes out in the letters. Survival in medieval Scotland and England was, at best, difficult. Imagine being placed in a cage and exposed to the elements year round. Even those not subjected to the elements did not have it easy.
The author took a difficult subject, did her homework, and put together a book I had a hard time putting down! She wove a believable story using people from history and fictional characters. This is a novel; it is not a scholarly work of history, though it is obvious Ms. Harvey has read several such tomes in order to write this story.