Category: Adult Fiction, 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release date: August 8, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 (for sexual content and violence)
Dukes’s gripping historical novel tells the tale of a desperate Albanian woman who will do whatever it takes to keep her independence and seize control of her future…even if it means swearing to remain a virgin for her entire life.
When eighteen-year-old Eleanora’s father is shot dead on the cobblestone streets of 1910 Albania, Eleanora must abandon her dream of studying art in Italy as she struggles to survive in a remote mountain village with her stepmother Meria.
Nearing starvation, Meria secretly sells Eleanora into marriage with the cruel heir of a powerful clan. Intent on keeping her freedom, Eleanora takes an oath to remain a virgin for the rest of her life—a tradition that gives her the right to live as a man: she is now head of her household and can work for a living as well as carry a gun. Eleanora can also participate in the vengeful blood feuds that consume the mountain tribes, but she may not be killed—unless she forsakes her vow, which she has no intention of ever doing.
But when an injured stranger stumbles into her life, Eleanora nurses him back to health, saving his life—yet risking her own as she falls in love with him…
“It’s hard to believe that the culture Dukes describes was ever real, but the amount of research she put into this book definitely shines through. The story remains fascinating throughout; readers will definitely find it difficult to put this novel down.”—San Francisco Book Review
As soon as I read the title and the book description, I was intrigued. I love learning historical facts about different cultures and this story brings us a picture of what life was like, especially for women, in the mountain tribes of Albania at the turn of the 20th century.
This book was fascinating because of the subject. Women could take the oath of being "sworn virgins" and in essence take on the role and respect given to men, but would need to remain a virgin for the rest of their lives. I have to say that Dukes really made this little known history come alive. The traditions, blood feuds, and daily life of the Albanian mountain people felt strange and so removed from modern day that it almost felt like I was reading about life in the middle ages rather than 1910.
Eleanora is a very complex character. She starts out as a pampered and beloved daughter who must now survive with her stepmother after her father is killed. To avoid marriage to a cruel man, she takes on the oath of a sworn virgin but soon after falls in love. It felt more like infatuation and obsession at some points in the novel, but nonetheless, this relationship she develops with Cheremi is also complicated because of both their pasts. Much of the story then focuses on how they will make this relationship work. I went through so many emotions reading this book, which is a testament to the author's writing. While at times I admired Eleanora, at other times I wanted to shake her.
Eleanora was educated and she was also an artist. I'm glad she made the decision she did at the end of the story, although it was not easy. I felt the ending was good. This book was different and for that I am glad. If you love historical fiction with a strong woman character in the lead, then this one is sure to please.
To read more reviews, please visit Kristopher Dukes' page on TLC Book Tours.
Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.
Kristopher Dukes was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She has been a nationally published writer since she was in high school. Her work has been featured in the bestselling book series Written in the Dirt and fashion bible WWD. She has been profiled in Vogue.fr, NY Times.com, Fast Company, Forbes.com, and WWD. The Sworn Virgin is her debut novel. She lives in Manhattan Beach, California, with her husband, Matt, and Doberman, Xena.
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