1 Stars Out Of 5
Too many problems
November 5, 2014
I liked the concept of The Covered Deep: its 1877, and a young woman from a small town in Ohio wins a competition to travel to London, and on to the Holy Land. Bianca Marshal is twenty-five, well-read, and holding out for True Love (encouraged by her father). Its soon apparent to the reader, if not to Bianca, that Sir Adrian Hartwith has selected his travel companions based on their unknown relationships, and this is what provides most of the conflict in the story. He has an ulterior motive, but I thought this didnt come out until too late in the story.
I had two main problems with The Covered Deep. The first is common to many American authors who use historical English settings and characters: they get the details wrong, to the point where it detracted from the story. Bianca cant have read Sherlock Holmes, because the first Homes novel wasnt published until 1887, ten years after the setting of The Covered Deep. English girls wear plaits, not braids, there has been no national flag of Great Britain since 1801 (when it became the flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland), and the British were subjects, not citizens, in 1877. And Biancas assumption that Paul Emerson is single because he doesnt wear a wedding ring is anachronistic: British men only started wearing wedding rings in the 1960s. Pedantic? Maybe. But these are the details which pull me out of the story.
Thats not to say the writing isnt good: some lines are brilliant. But parts of the story felt as though the author was trying too hard, often because she used a word in the wrong context (e.g. bees knees, which dates from 1922), or used the almost-correct word (e.g. her acute eyes or howbeit where albeit would have been a better choice).
My second problem was with the character of innocent naive Bianca. She is twenty-five, unmarried, and this is the first time shes ever left her home town. But shes spent those twenty-five years living with parents who barely like each other, a mother who has continually encouraged her to marry, a father who has encouraged her to hold out for true love, and with books. How could she have read authors like Shakespeare, Austen and the Bronte sisters, and not realised that some people will lie, cheat and scheme in order to get what they want? (Not to mention reading The Bible, which is full of object lessons in what not to do.) It didnt ring true.
The result is I found it hard to care for Bianca, and harder still to care for any of her travel companions. Finishing the book was a chore, not a pleasure. I liked the concept, but the writing didnt resonate with me.
Thanks to Worthy Publishing and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.