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100 Pages A Day...Stephanie's Book Reviews

I absolutely love historical fiction and read a lot of it; I love to learn history this way.  I also enjoy reading science fiction, fantasy, horror, thriller and non-fiction science.

The Sworn Virgin

The Sworn Virgin: A Novel - Kristopher Dukes

During the early 20th century in Albania, the Law of Lekë ruled.  Women were under the strict authority of men and men could shoot each other for honor with no consequence.  However, if a woman wanted to swear to live as a virgin for the rest of her life, she could live with the freedoms of a man including the style of dress, carrying a gun, and killing another man for honor.  Eleanora has lived a privileged life for a young woman in a small mountain Village of Albania.  She has spent most of her life traveling with her father who works as  a healer.  This life has given Eleanora extended freedom, a different skill set than most other women and a passion and talent for art.  Eleanora's father, Francis believes he can secure a place for his daughter at an art school in Venice.  While traveling, Francis is recognized and killed in the street as an honor killing.  With no other choice, Eleanora makes the trip back to her village with her step-mother, Meria. Believing she is doing what's best, Meria arranges a marriage for Eleanora with Edi, a cruel man from a neighboring clan.  Rather than become a subservient wife, Eleanora declares herself a sworn virgin. When an injured stranger enters their life, Eleanora fears breaking her vow.

This is an amazing story that introduced me to a culture that I knew nothing about. The writing transported me to the mountainous villages of Albania. The rich culture, vibrant landscapes, houses, food and clothing came to life for me.  Eleanora's character was captivating, I loved her passion for art, her unwavering spirit and following her on her journey to find out how she can fit in. The gender roles and Eleanora's place within them was an intriguing journey that carried throughout the story.  I was very interested to see if she would thrive in her role as a man when she was a sworn virgin or enjoy her role as a traditional woman.  I was not surprised at the outcome.  The suspense created by the many different feuds and the effects they caused on the families was very direct and created a dangerous web that Eleanora fell into which led to a very different ending than I suspected.  Overall, a unique and vibrant tale about a woman's life in early 20th century Albania.  

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.