About The Sworn Virgin• Paperback: 352 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 8, 2017)
Source: This book was given to me by TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: 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…
My Review: Eleanora dreams of leaving her home in Albania and go to an art school in Venice. Her father decides to help her out. They take a trip to a nearby city to visit a priest who will help Eleanora get into the art school she desires. After a successful meeting with the priest, who reassures her that she will be accepted into the school, Eleanora’s dream is now within her grasp. Her dream shatters when Eleonora's father is shot. Eleanora returns home, where she discovers that she and her step-mother, Meria, are poverty-stricken. Because they are on the verge of starvation, Meria sells Eleanora into a marriage with the cruel son of a powerful clan.
To prevent her marriage from happening, Eleanora takes the oath to remain chaste for the rest of her life. Becoming a sworn virgin gives her the freedom of living like a man as long as she keeps her vows. If she does not follow the oath and marries, then the family whom she was once engaged to has the right to kill her. After saying the oath, Eleanora goes after her father's killer. One day, Eleanora stumbles upon an injured man. As she nurses him back to health, she finds herself falling in love with him and is conflicted to keep her vows.
I really like Eleanora. She was a strong woman. She was very spirited and independent. She was also very idealistic. I felt sorry for her when her dreams shattered because of her father’s murder. At first, Eleanora was set against becoming a sworn virgin, but because she did not want to marry her fiance because of his cruel nature, she is forced to become one. Thus, I found Eleanora’s transformation into a sworn virgin to be intriguing, and I liked reading more about Eleanora’s story after she changed her oath. Eleanora did a have a few faults. She had a grudge. I also didn’t like how she treated Meria after she sold her because the reader sees the situation from Meria’s eyes.
Overall, this book is about independence, determination, and duty. The message of this book is to be yourself. The characters are well-developed and very likable. The story is very well-written. I loved the setting of Albania. This was a very unique setting, and I had never read a book set in this country before. I thought the author did a great job in portraying the sworn virgins, and the dangers they face if they forsake their vows. The story started out slow, but picked up speed halfway to the end. I really adored the ending. Therefore, this novel is a perfect read for a lazy Sunday afternoon. I recommend The Sworn Virgin to fans of A Woman’s Choice, Maud’s Line, and Go Away Home.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
“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
About Kristopher Dukes
Connect with her on Facebook.