James Gault reviews Love Lost in Time by Cathie Dunn
I apologise in advance for having the cheek to offer a review, written by a man, of a book aimed mostly at women. Can the male persona really absorb and do justice to the wishes and tastes of female readers? For you to judge.
Cathie Dunn writes historical romances and her favoured setting is Scotland in the Middle Ages. Her latest novel takes her into unfamiliar territory. We’re still talking romance and intrigue, but this time she offers us two interlinked stories. Both are set in Southern France, but one is a contemporary love story while the other is a dark tale set in the eighth century: the time of the emergence of France as a nation and Christianity as the predominate religion in Western Europe.
The historical part is handled with the same sure touch that brought her success with her earlier works. The characters all conceal hidden secrets; the heroine overcomes distrust of the hero and finds true happiness; loyalty is tested and rewarded; dark deeds are done and are avenged. We’re offered an engrossing story which holds our attention from beginning to end, with the historical settings meticulously researched just as we’ve come to expect in Cathie’s novels. She exposes the period’s religious tensions exceptionally well: the struggle for supremacy between believers in the ‘one true God’ and the polytheistic followers of the pagan religious, and we see the emergence of the religious intolerance that still plagues the world today.
The contemporary part of the story, intertwined with the historical events, has the same elements of romance and intrigue. I liked it, but not as much as the other part. I think this might be a masculine point of view, but ,as far as the historical process goes, I felt a little let down.. The heroine discovers the ancient bones of the eight century heroine under the floor of her new home. She then excavates them, carefully but not meticulously. As a fan of TV archaeology programmes, I personally would have wanted the excavation to be more rigorous and scientific. Perhaps then the clues from the dig might have exposed the circumstances of the eighth century heroine’s death to the modern characters, as in a modern archaeological investigation.
But forget my personal intellectual meanderings; this is a well written and rewarding read, especially for lovers of the genre. A good read, even for a mere male.
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