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Monday, August 10, 2009

Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena


Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena (Rated:C)

Author Joyce DiPastena holds a degree specializing in medieval history. It’s no wonder then that she easily transports us to Poitou, France, in the year 1179 with her latest historical romance novel Illuminations of the Heart. It is the era when rivalry existed between King Henry II’s sons, and gallant swashbuckling knights rescued fair maidens from highway robberies and lecherous men.

Illuminations of the Heart is the story of Triston de Brielle, a man who still grieves the tragic loss of his wife, when Siriol de Calendri, an illuminator from Venice, shows up at his castle’s doorstep with a letter from her late brother stating that she is now his ward. Siriol’s sudden presence in his life causes an upheaval within Triston, whose past has left him a sad, volatile and tortured man—a man whose own son fears him. Nonetheless, Siriol falls in love with him, but her striking resemblance to his late wife becomes an obstacle between them. Furthermore, Triston must contend with accusations of treason and murderous revenge from his scheming neighbour, Raynor, who blames Triston for killing his sister.

The action begins right from page one and pulls the reader immediately into the story. DiPastena skilfully creates a web of intrigue, romance and revenge as the story unfolds. At times, though, I found the story to slow down, and as it is 425 pages long, I feel that had it been 100 pages less, the plot would have moved along quicker. Nevertheless, die-hard readers of historical romances will certainly enjoy this well-written novel by an expert in medieval history. In fact, I appreciated the glossary of medieval terms included in the back of the book so that I learned the meanings of such words as hauberk, portcullis and psaltery. Cool, huh?

You will want to pay careful attention to the names and roles of the main and secondary characters as well as others (from the past) mentioned as initially it can be confusing, but it will be important as the story progresses and culminates. The author ties in everything beautifully at the end, and the family tree diagram was an excellent addition toward the end of the novel. It assists the reader in seeing the whole picture and helps us to appreciate the extensive research it took to put this story together.

I’d like to thank the author for giving me the opportunity to read and review her book. I look forward to reading your next novel, Joyce!

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4 comments :

  1. That cover is beautiful, don't you think? And nice review as well, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Also, thanks for adding me to the blog roll, will do the same for you in a jiffy!

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  2. Thanks, Nikola. Yes, the book cover is beautiful and very appropriate for the story. Thanks for dropping by!

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  3. Based on the review, Joyce DiPastena, in her novel "Illuminations of the Heart", gives the reader an insight into the unique relationship between men and women that existed during The Age of Chivalry. Certainly, a time in history when a romantic relationship would also be tested by conflict on both a familial and societal level. In this milieu, the reader would be hooked into the plot early on and stay until the end. Conflict is essential in the romance novel as it fosters an eventual resolution by compelling the principal charactors to transcend to a higher level of understanding to resolve the emotional upheaval that this conflict generates.

    From a writer's perspective, the author demonstrates the importance of "setting" when embarking on any literary work. Whether it is in the past, the present or a manufactured future, the ambient background interacts with the charactors in establishing the necessary parameters within which the plot will play out most effectively.

    More importantly, Joyce has demonstrated to aspiring writers, their usage of existing knowledge, through education or research, to effectively create a setting for their plot. As she has done, having been educated in medieval history, and giving this novel the additional attribute of historical insight.

    Your review of this book, Laura, in of itself, has provided for the would-be writer, a demonstration of the importance of a novel's setting in its overall success.

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  4. I also love the cover and the book sounds wonderful. WOuld love to read it.

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Thank you for commenting! I appreciate your feedback.

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