Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sovay by Celia Rees Book Review

Sovay by Celia Rees
(Bloomsbury, Hardcover)


Sovay is a well-to-do British girl living in the country. Her father is a simple man but he has some radical political beliefs. With her father gone on business and her older brother at school, Sovay is left alone to prove that her fiance is a scoundrel. She dons a cape and robs his carriage. After one exciting attempt, Sovay decides that being a highway robber has it's benefits and when her home and family are threatened, she takes to the road again.

I really enjoyed Pirates! by Celia Rees and this novel has it's good points (political intrigue, interesting characters), but there were a few things that really bothered me. The first has to do with plot. Sovay always has a man looking out for her--her brother, the overseer's son, an actual highway robber, a politician from America, and a French soldier. I understand that given the time period, it's very unlikely that a girl would be on her own, but I like my heroines to be real heroines, brave and independent. Another plot element that bothered me was Sovay's love life. Sovay is intelligent and beautiful and basically everyone that isn't related to her falls hopelessly in love with her. This is a big spoiler, but it isn't until towards the end of the novel that Sovay falls in love. It felt rushed and unexplained and I wasn't very convinced. By no means do I need my novels to have a romantic element, but if there is one, I need it to be believable.

The second thing that bothered me was how the novel was presented or marketed. The description on the back starts off: "When the rich and beautiful Sovay isn’t sitting for portraits, she’s donning a man’s cloak and robbing travelers—in broad daylight." I read this and thought that Sovay would be an experienced highway robber and that the book would center around her robberies. Sovay does rob a few trains, though not very many and they are all early on in the novel. The cover claims that she "robbed for love." Actually, she first robs for revenge. Her following robberies happen out of necessity. You could stretch it a bit and say that she robbed for familial love, but even that doesn't quite work.

So I'm not sure if this book was disappointing because I expected something different based on the cover description or if the character of Sovay just didn't click for me. As I mentioned, I really loved Pirates! and so I'll definitely be trying other books by Celia Rees. I would recommend Sovay if you enjoy historical novels, especially ones about the French Revolution.


  1. Sorry to hear it didn't live up to expectations. I wanted to read this one, but I'm going to wait a while now.

    Great review, too!

  2. I think you said pretty much the same thing on my review of this, but I was also disappointed with Sovay, and for a lot of the same reasons.

    But if you haven't read Witch Child, you really should because it's very good. The sequel, Sorceress never did much for me--I think because it's modern--so I only read the parts (maybe half) that take place in the time of Witch Child.

  3. I really wanted to read a book about a woman "highwayman" but apparently this isn't it?

  4. I loved Pirates! Especially the exclamation point part of it. Take that, Panic.

    I was kind of disappointed to see that the book didn't live up to your expectations, but I think that I'll still read it. I like Celia Rees too much to quit cold turkey.


  5. Shoot, I'm sorry to hear it was disappointing. I loved her Witch Child and was excited to see a new one coming out. I'm sad that the heroine isn't independent, boo. I like my heroines to be able to look after themselves, too.

  6. i just finished readin it and i thought it was pretty good considering the junk i've been reading latly for school. i thought the plot was a little too much though and the love life was unlike anyother that i've read --stiill, you should read it if your bored.

  7. i thought it was great!!!!

  8. i personally loved the book i thought it was intresting how everyone fell in love with her because of her beauty and personality and i found it funny that she didnt veiw herself that way, the only bad thing i have to say is i wish she would of fell in love with greenwood but whatever

  9. The book had a great idea behind it, a stong female heroine, but turned out to be dissapointing. The author tried to cram many stories into one novel. I found it a bit confusing


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