It’s England, 1783. When the rich and beautiful Sovay isn’t sitting for portraits, she’s donning a man’s cloak and robbing travelers—in broad daylight. But in a time when political allegiances between France and England are strained, a rogue bandit is not the only thing travelers fear. Spies abound, and rumors of sedition can quickly lead to disappearances. So when Sovay lifts the wallet of one of England’s most powerful and dangerous men, it’s not just her own identity she must hide, but that of her father. A dazzling historical saga in which the roles of thieves and gentry, good and bad, and men and women are interchanged to riveting effect.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience: Historical adventure readers
High point: Strong writing
Low point: Didn't engage me
Reader maturity: 13+
The summary above is a bit misleading. While Sovay does include thieves and gentry and part of the novel is spent with Sovay as a highwayman, much of the novel centers around The French Revolution, exploring its impact on both the French and the English.
Sovay is a bright, progressive girl, but she's also quite spoiled and naive, though the latter two are frequently forgotten by her male companions who are impressed by her unusual independence (for a woman). Due to the uniqueness of it, I liked the parts of the story where Sovay plays a highwayman; I didn't realize that such robbery was so common at that time.
Sovay's brother, Hugh, and Captain Greenwood, a highwaymen, were my two favorite characters. Hugh is the perfect, protective older brother, and Captain Greenwood is the honorable rapscallion. The introduction of the French Revolution into the plot was also a high point, as I haven't read much about it since A Tale of Two Cities. There were lots of small new plot developments along the way, and Sovay actually feels like it could be two books, which was a nice surprise, getting mulitiple adventures in one.
I believe that if Sovay had been written to an older audience, I may have enjoyed it more; as it stands, Sovay is an action-packed story with a fearless heroine, perfect for an older MG or younger YA audience.
Author: Celia Rees
Genre: Fiction - Historical
Book Source: Purchased