It was interesting to read about another part of the world with this historical novel. I was sent The Sworn Virgin by Kristopher Dukes by TLC Book Tours at no charge for my honest review. The book didn’t explore big historical events but rather customs of Albanian villagers at the turn of the 20ieth century.
About The Sworn Virgin:
• Paperback: 352 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 8, 2017)
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…
About the Author:
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.
Connect with her on Facebook.
The synopsis of this book is certainly intriguing – unlike any book I’ve read in the past. That and the location of the tale is what really caught my attention. I can honestly say I knew nothing about this tradition of the sworn virgin (learn more here). Yes, it truly did and does exist.
Eleanora travels about the mountains with her father who is a doctor to the various villages. He is a man who holds what would be considered progressive attitudes about women for his time and place – at least in regards to his daughter. He allows her to read and pursue art rather than learn the traditional skills of a woman of her tribe. This is a source of pride for Eleanora’s father but a reason for her stepmother to feel embarrassed. The people of the village think she is a disgrace but her father’s skills outweigh what they think. All Eleanora cares about is going to study are in Italy thanks to her father’s stories. He is doing what he can to get her there. It is on this trip that he is killed and Eleanora’s path to choosing a life as a Sworn Virgin begins.
There is much more to the book than a young girl losing her father. It is a tale of the Kanun or blood feud that to this day still rules in certain parts of Albania. For example, if I murder someone in “Fred’s” family even if I am sent to jail, honor cannot be restored until someone from Fred’s family murders me or a member of my family. Usually the males. Entire generations of families have been eliminated due to this “tradition.” I can’t say that I understand it and I will admit that my inability to understand did cause me some difficulty with reading the book. I just cannot understand these kinds of motivations.
The book was a very interesting look into a culture about which I knew absolutely nothing. I’ve since gone on a wild wiki reading spree so I do respect a book that sends me off on a learning jag. I will admit that I found the first two thirds more interesting than the final third. I just didn’t understand the direction the book took, nor did I understand the ending. Perhaps I need to give it another reading but it’s not like I’m dying to read it again just looking for deeper understanding.