Saraband for Two Sisters by Philippa Carr
The Miracle at St. Bruno's -read my review
The Lion Triumphant - read my review
The Witch From the Sea- read, but never reviewed here.
Angelet and Bersaba. They were identical twins, but their alikeness stopped at their physical appearance. Angelet was gentle and mild in her innocence. While Bersaba was dark and devious in her overwhelming sensuality. They had never been apart--until Bersaba became ill. Angelet was immediately packed off to London. There she met and married Richard Tolworthy and went to live at the handsome, brooding manor house at Far Flamstead. Bersaba had always thought she would be the first to wed. Recovered, she went to visit the newlyweds with more jealousy than joy in her heart. Nothing could have prepared her for the secrets she discovered there. Secrets of a carefully hidden past that could unleash dangerous passions and forever separate her from the sister she had always loved...
This is the fourth novel I have read of the Daughters of England series created by Philippa Carr who is also known as Jean Plaidy and Victoria Holt. The series is a historical gothic romance saga that follows the same family tree from one generation to the next, set against intriguing backdrops of historical importance. While Plaidy's work can be incessantly dry and monotonous as she details historical events with her royal character portrayals, the Carr pen name allowed her to freely carve out fanciful reimaginings with some pretty far-fetched plots which makes it so much fun to read.
The previous novel The Witch from The Sea brought us the story of a woman being washed ashore and the drama that was caused by her arrival. In Saraband for Two Sisters that woman's daughter arrives back at Trystan Priory and creates turmoil within the lives of twins Angelet and Bersaba. This novel is told in alternating first person accounts by these sisters, who are twins only in appearance. Their characters are developed before our eyes as Bersaba is the impetuous passionate one, and Angelet is the sweeter kinder of the two. The reign of King Charles is at question in England and the two key men in the novel are at opposite ends of the political beliefs of the time: Royalist and Puritan. Of course, the twins wind up with one of each.
Wild events occur from smallpox and secrets of a mysterious castle, poisons and falling in love with the wrong men. It was fast paced and seemed better to stomach than the previous novel; with some of the previous Carr novels the males were portrayed as overbearing brutes and this one only seems to have the recurring character of the grumpy maniacal Grandfather Casvellyn as the mean man. The others were pretty darned good to a fault. This time...I know it can't last forever.
These are the type of novels that you can't go too much into the detail without giving away a spoiler, so I will end it here with the remarks that I enjoy the Daughters of England series for the dramatic license it exhibits even while still setting a historical tone, and the characters are so easy to root for. The gothic suspense with romance thrown in is always a treat and whenever I finish a Carr novel I always want to binge read and move on to the next one. These novels would have made a fantastic TV series with awesome instrumentals playing in the background.
Since I own all the titles, just for kicks I looked up the next book: Lament for A Lost Lover and it will bring us more turbulent political drama of Cromwell and will follow the daughter of Bersaba as they are forced away from their home to take exile with the rightful king.