1808 – When 14 year old Alexandra meets Patrick, her handsome and notorious step-brother, she is confused and resentful as he shakes the foundations of everything she has ever known. Driving a wedge between Alex and her brother Simon, he tears apart the fabric of her quiet world. Yet she is intrigued by the enigmatic Patrick and finds herself increasingly drawn to him.
These are the years between childhood and womanhood, during which Alex begins to realise that her growing affection for Patrick owes nothing to sibling fondness.
But these are turbulent times for England and Patrick and Simon, answering the call of adventure, join the fight against Napoleon with devastating consequences.
In a family ravaged by war and deceit Alex finds herself betrayed in the worst possible way. This is the story of one woman’s passionate struggle for love and hope against all the constraints of her time.
Features and Benefits
The story is written in a light and relaxing style, which makes it a great book to sit and unwind with. The homes and rooms described are quite delightful – creating wonderful mental images of opulent, creative and colourful rooms.
Torn is a book with a luscious looking cover image and it is filled with language of the same ilk. Karen Turner is deft as using language to paint rich, colourful and evocative images.
Set in England in the times when the Royal Court was both a desired place to be as well as place that was mocked by many, those same elements of desire and jealousy mixed with judgemental views abound through the story.
Centering on a young teenager Alexandra (referred to as Alex or Zan by her family) this story threads through the whirlwind of growing up as a teenager – complex enough on it’s own, let alone when one’s distant mother returns with a new husband and two new siblings.
The ties that bind families are explored and there are some familiar themes even for modern families – the love and the tensions are still seen today. We may not have the magnificent country homes and rolling gardens and forests, or the servants that are present in Torn. What we do have in common are the challenges of dealing with possessive love and romantic love. Of defining family love and friendship, including the conflicts that occur when someone you love is betrayed (or does the betraying).
Alexandra confronts these questions through the book that is written like her memoir – in first person and reflective, yet not so reflective as to indicate any level of understanding beyond her years as she ages through the book.
Initially this book may be hard to read as there is some character set up and the language, whilst not fully of the times is more flowery and formal than many books you’ll find now. Yet it is well worth it – the pace really picks up and for the last 150 pages it was hard to put the book down.
So many things happen, some expected and others not so.
Ms Turner provides an insight into some of the relationship aspect of living in the early 19th century. Whilst other authors may pursue the politics or architecture more fully, Torn includes them but only as a mechanism to explore the characters and the ways in which their family relationships change with time. And with war.
This is a recommended read for those who enjoy the light historical romantic genre – without too much emphasis on either history or romance. It is a wonderful book to revisit the angst of a girl’s teenage years, and with a couple of nice twists.
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