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1590: Curses cannot be silenced
1590: Curses cannot be silenced
Mary lives a contented life as wife to a wealthy merchant in Elizabethan London. But there’s a part of her past she can’t forget . . . As a small girl she was cursed for causing the death of a vagrant child, a curse that predicts that she will hang.
Sometimes the happiest households are not what they seem, and Mary’s carefully curated world begins to falter. Mary’s whole life is based on a lie. Is she the woman her husband believes her to be?
One rainy day she ventures to London’s Cheapside, where her past catches up with her . . . Suddenly the lies and deception she has so fought to hide begin to claw to the surface.
Some of the places in the novel are fictional but they do form a picture of Elizabethan London with its squalor, filth, witch hunt and cobbled streets. There are also strong beliefs involving curses and hangings which chill this read.
Cat and Anthony come to Cheapside as it’s where the wealthy come. It’s where they are going to change their fortunes and plus he says,” there’s nothing else to do in the rain.” Cheapside is the throbbing heart of the city and the hustle and bustle of the trading area It’s busy and chaotic all at once.
“The quietness of the city makes me uneasy. Sensible people are hunched over braziers, their shutters sparred against the weather. The goodwives have been to market, and the gentlefolk who come here in search of silver and gold of velvets and silks and sumptuous satins have stayed at home in their warm houses. The smoke straggles out of the chimneys, beaten back by the rain.”
Grand Haverley Court is one side of the coin here. This is the wealthy side of life, where a woman can live in a bubble, in a rich world of comfort and far from the grimy side where poverty is rife and where life appears cheap.
“To me, the house was a living creature, watching me slyly, Its shadows tiptoed behind me as I walked through it. I would feel them like a breath on the back of my neck and my skin would prickle”
“The kitchen was equipped to create great feasts, but Lord Delahay never entertained”
Two great characters in this one and both with voices in the past. Mary and Cat were once like sisters but life separates them and sends them on different paths. The story and mystery depends a lot on the social habits and ideas at the time, how curses were seen as having a real impact on your life, behaviour and how they could control your life. Superstition it might be, but life depended on these kinds of thought processes at the time and this novel realy brings this out.
As well as the detail on the mores of the time, there’s also happily what Pamela does so well – evocative descriptions of cobbled streets, market squares, and the gaps between rich and poor. Oh and there’s the food! So much variety and a great way of learning about the habits and traditions then.
As with any story of a curse, there’s a definite level of creepiness in the story and this is deftly threaded throughout the story. Mary is a character to watch and I felt I’d been on the entire journey with her – dizzying thoughts of what might happen to her and everything!
Oh and I won’t forget Peg in a hurry. In fact this novel is going to linger for me. It’s a new direction for the author but one I hope she repeats!
Destination : London Author/Guide: Pamela Hartshorne Departure Time: 1590sBack to Results