I,ve just finished Sacred Hearts and have enjoyed it. This is surprising as I am not a historical fiction fan and would not have chosen a Sarah Dunnant read.
I did feel sucked in from the start by the four main characters, who were so skillfully drawn and believable, even in the bizarre world of an enclosed order which is so alien to today,s society..My favorite character is Madonna Chiara who walks the tightrope of convent politics so cleverly. She is devout but worldly. On page 394 comments, “She is only a young woman who did not want to be a nun. The world is full of them.” In other words, it,s tough but that,s how things are, just get on with it!
I did find the happy ending rather far fetched; would that actually have happened? Even with the threat of change decreed by the Council of Trent and all the internal politics going on, I doubt it. I think Serafina would have come to a much stickier end.
It is interesting that half of all young well born women were forced into the religious life which must have been hellish whether or not you had a calling. It does show how little women were valued; seen only as a commodity and allowed no choices. When Isabetta offers to take a smaller dowry to marry her music teacher, “Her father,s fury had torn the tapestries off the wall”, and she was beaten almost senseless..Yet, nuns were respected by the populous who didn,t care that they were forced into the life. Very strange.
Need something a bit more cheery next time.