Thursday, April 15, 2021

My review of The Year We Lived by Virginia Crow #HistoricalFiction #BookReview #CoffeePotBookClub @DaysDyingGlory @CrowvusLit @maryanneyarde

The Year We Lived
By Virginia Crow

It is 1074, 8 years after the fateful Battle of Hastings. Lord Henry De Bois is determined to find the secret community of Robert, an Anglo-Saxon thane. Despite his fervour, all his attempts are met with failure.

When he captures Robert’s young sister, Edith, events are set in motion, affecting everyone involved. Edith is forced into a terrible world of cruelty and deceit, but finds friendship there too.

Will Robert ever learn why Henry hates him so much? Will Edith’s new-found friendships be enough to save her from De Bois? And who is the mysterious stranger in the reedbed who can disappear at will?

A gripping historical fiction with an astonishing twist!

Publication Date: 10th April 2021
Publisher: Crowvus
Page Length: approx. 118,000 words – approx. 350 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction


Eight years after the Battle of Hastings, Lord Henry De Bois is determined to find out where the Anglo-Saxon thane, Robert is hiding. De Bois would do anything to get to Robert, but Robert’s village is hidden, and De Bois has been unsuccessful in finding it. When Robert’s younger sister, Edith, meets a young man by the reeds, who was to know that, despite the harmless nature of the young man, such a meeting would change the course of all of their futures forever

When De Bois’ men kidnap Edith, she is forced into a life that is so opposite to what she has grown up used to. Instead of being surrounded by people she knows, spending her time outdoors and being in the safety of people who would do anything for her, she is thrown into a place where she knows no one and where cruelty roams freely. While she must suffer under the hands of De Bois, Robert suffers her loss, not knowing where she has gone, or even whether she is still alive.

With mystery, adventure and plots aplenty, Virginia Crow has woven together such an intricate novel of twists and turns that it will give a reader whiplash, she is also the master of plot twists!

The historical setting is commendable. While the man of the reeds, the young Dunstan, is sweet, innocent and peaceful, it is difficult to overlook the side of him that people have been taught to fear, for a changeling shouldn’t be befriended, but burned. Such prejudice, against someone who is so clearly so harmless is heartbreaking to read about, although such occurrences and views were realistic for the historical era and have been presented wonderfully. 

The trials that Edith goes through are, in a way, similar to Dunstans. While Dunstan feels the terror and hatred against him whenever he walks into the village, Edith cannot escape what is thrown at her. She grows through the course of the book, over the timeframe of a year, from a young girl with few cares and so much love in her heart, to a woman who would do anything to save those she loves, despite what she may lose while doing so. Edith was certainly a beautiful character to read about and it tore at my heart as I read about everything she goes through, and how despite all she suffers, she still finds it within herself to love and help those she can. In particular, I came to feel for the fool the same way she did, for he did not deserve all that he was put through and such a life, such threats and humiliation, should have no place in the life of such a man. While he might pretend not to, it was clear that he cared deeply for Edith, and she for him, and both would have done anything they could to protect the other.

While Robert seemed too quick to anger at the start, too eager to snap at those around him, I found myself warming to him as the story progressed. He is quick to judge and wary to trust, but it is such qualities that make him such a keen hunter, one that has protected the location of his community for so long. He is a wonderful leader, and his men trust him inexplicably. His concern over his sister when she goes missing was portrayed beautifully, for although he might not initially show it, he would do anything for her.

There is a huge plot twist at the end of this novel, one that makes you sit back in awe as you realise how perfectly the story has been written. It was as if each individual piece of the story were a piece of a puzzle and from each individual piece, it is impossible to tell what it is showing you. However, when presented with the picture as a whole, each piece became so incredibly obvious, everything slotting into place so perfectly that it is difficult to comprehend how much work has gone into weaving each piece of the story together. Each piece fit together so intricately that, upon reflection, it seems obvious, yet when reading, I was blissfully unaware of how all these characters, seemingly so very different, would come together and paint that picture.

From danger and fear to secrets and mysteries, this novel has something for everyone. This is the kind of book that I would happily read again, just to pick up on all the little details that I might have overlooked, which hinted to the ending.

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Virginia Crow

Virginia grew up in Orkney, using the breath-taking scenery to fuel her imagination and the writing fire within her. Her favourite genres to write are fantasy and historical fiction, sometimes mixing the two together such as her newly-published book "Caledon". She enjoys swashbuckling stories such as the Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and is still waiting for a screen adaption that lives up to the book!

When she's not writing, Virginia is usually to be found teaching music, and obtained her MLitt in "History of the Highlands and Islands" last year. She believes wholeheartedly in the power of music, especially as a tool of inspiration. She also helps out with the John O'Groats Book Festival which is celebrating its 3rd year this April.

She now lives in the far flung corner of Scotland, soaking in inspiration from the rugged cliffs and miles of sandy beaches. She loves cheese, music and films, but hates mushrooms.

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  1. Thank you so much for this incredible review! I'm really glad you felt so invested in the characters, and that you enjoyed the twist at the end!