April 27, 2015

ARC Review: Five Wounds by Katharine Edgar

Five Wounds
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*I received a digital ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

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AMAZON | BOOK DEPOSITORY

Historical fiction is a genre that takes a special place in my heart. Reading a historical fiction for me is like ‘traveling’ with a time warp all the way to a whole different dimension in the past. Getting to know the life of people in places that used to exist somewhere around us ―or might be just right where we are right now― centuries ago through a story, gives me wonderful experiences that I could never get from another genre. I always loved history when I was still attending school. While reading historical literature is focusing on certain important events, historical fiction book gives more casual description about people living at the time, how they talked, how they interacted and behave among a strict conventional society. It’s like studying in a fun way, as long as we understand the line between real events and the fictional ones.
Five Wounds took place during Tudor era and was told with Pilgrimage of Grace as the background event. I know almost nothing about both things. That made me more excited to read the book because I’d get to add something more to my knowledge about England history after I finished it. And I did!


Nan Ellerton was the daughter of Sir Thomas. Unlike her sister, May, who seemed to always please their father just by being born pretty, Nan was always the black sheep in her family. She wasn’t as pretty as her sister but at least she was the brighter one. But that too, no longer mattered since the accident 10 years ago that brought shame to her family and made her forever remembered as a disgrace in their family history. She was sent to the convent ever since until she was not able to see her mother’s face for the last time. Once she’s back home, Nan lived under worse treatment from her father. Good thing she still had her sister and her grandmother who could make her life more bearable.
If that hadn’t enough as a life test for Nan, now she was faced with the worst one. One fine afternoon turned into a nightmare when her father said she was to betroth to a baron from the next dale named Lord Middleham. An older ―way much older than her 15 years old age― and had-married-three-times Lord Middleham. She had no other choice but to obey the arranged-marriage because of two things. First, if she didn’t make it, it’d be May who’d take her place at betrothal. May herself had betrothed to her sweetheart so there was no way Nan would have a heart to do that to her. Second, it would do good to erase her dark history as a disgrace if she married to a baron.

Nan dreaded her future where she kept imagining would be more awful than her life now. She would live in a strange castle, married to an older man with unknown personality, and there would be no May or her grandma to make everything bearable. What she didn’t expect was for her life line to changed 180 degrees as the rising made a move against King Henry VIII’s break with Catholic church in 1534. Not only she was tangled in sinful feeling with Middleham’s son, Francis, but she also had to dodge around from the anti-rebellion as the result of her fearless support to the rebels. She met a lot of people during the process including a blacksmith with interesting personality. In a flash, Nan found her life turned upside-down as her own belief wavered by the heart-wrenching violence happened around her.


Ms. Edgard as the author did a great job with the vivid details and all. Not only she had an excellent understanding about this historical event, she also succeeded in describing people’s daily life during Tudor era aside the rebellion and the situation of the dale very well. As people like me who knew nothing about the historical event, this was really helpful. Not only did she ‘play’ with rich details of the event, she also used lots of foreign terms along with conventional conversations ancient-like and she paired them all out there in a way that was easy to digest without I even needed to find the meaning of each terms. Like I said, this was such a great experience of studying history in a fun way. Ms. Edgard provided historical note in the end stating the clear line between reality and fictional ones from the book so I could easily identify them.
All the fictional characters on the book had subtle characteristics each except the main character, Nan, who was described as one realistic girl existed at the time. Unlike her sister, she’d tasted the bitter parts of life ever since she was 5. Nan seemed having a strong character at first. I was mesmerized by her determination in joining the rising. How she always based her demeanor on what she believed was true under her religious view until myriad of awful things taking turns coming to her life making everything she’d been believed faltered away. Sometimes I forgot that she’s only 15.
Lord Middleham and Francis both had difficult characteristics to read. I found myself feeling cautious at each of them back and forth. And close to the end, things unraveled in a surprising way. And there was also another character that started to get involved actively halfway through the book but apparently held on an important role for the ending. Ms. Edgard didn’t provide enough description to each character’s personality, instead we were led to judge them on our own based on the way they interacted with each other and how they talked to Nan as the narrator of the story.
I was totally immersed into the story. The vivid description of the situation at the time was enough to convince me that I was indeed ‘travelling’ with time warp all the way into Tudor England. Despite how wrong Nan had strayed from her original belief, I ached for her. She was faced with lots of misery ever since she was still an innocent kid. Sent away from home caused her to lack of motherly love. Then her father forced her to marry someone she didn’t love. And in the end the rising happened, followed by merciless punishment after the failure act of rebellion. I personally thought it was about time Nan snapped off. After all she was only 15 turning 16.
That was why I was so glad with how Ms. Edgard wrapped the story up. Nan deserved a happy ending for her long excruciating life on the past 10 years. Even though it was only a glimpse, I loved to believe that happiness would stay on Nan’s path from there onward.


Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

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