- Author: Liza Perrat
- Published: November 2015 by Perrat Publishing
- Category: Historical Fiction, Book Review, Books, Reading
1348. A bone-sculpted angel and the woman who wears it––heretic, Devil’s servant, saint.
Midwife Héloïse has always known that her bastard status threatens her standing in the French village of Lucie-sur-Vionne. Yet her midwifery and healing skills have gained the people’s respect, and she has won the heart of the handsome Raoul Stonemason. The future looks hopeful. Until the Black Death sweeps into France.
The story begins in the year 1334 and focuses on Héloïse, growing up in Lucie-sur-Vionne and cared for by her aunt, the village midwife Isa, her dead mother’s twin. She’s taunted mercilessly about being a ‘non-born’ by some of the superstitious village folk.
While Isa was at the next village, Héloïse is called to her first birthing, setting her on the path of an apprentice midwife. Several years later Héloïse is accepted by some for her herbalistic and midwifery skills, although there are those who have always been scornful. She is married to Raoul, a stonemason working in Florence, and their daughter Morgane wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps and carry on the family tradition.
Since Isa no longer worked, midwifing and healing kept me away many hours, and I was glad she was here for Morgane, though I wished – especially during the long winter nights – that her father could be at home too.
‘I want to birth the babe, Maman.’
I’ve told you, my eager little apprentice….seven is too young but soon you’ll be old enough to do your own midwifing.’ I smoothed wisps of hair from her brow, kissed her sweet-smelling cheek and hurried out into the night.
When the Black Death is inadvertently brought to the village with Raoul’s return, tragedy descends on the people and Héloïse had her work cut out trying to save as many as she could. Until Raoul demanded she stop and think of the safety of her own family. What was she to do….obey her husband or stay true to her vow? The decision was made for her in the worst possible way.
Liza Perrat has completely captures the emotions, behaviour and superstitious nature of the villagers in the face of this horrifying plague. It’s a harsh and violent time brought vividly to life with, amongst other things, wonderfully diverse characters, their everyday lives and the historical setting. Héloïse is a compelling woman, strong-willed and resolute, ahead of her time and easy to empathise with. She was determined to do whatever it takes to make life healthier and safer for the villagers, despite the treatment meted out to her.
A powerful and well constructed tale by a talented storyteller, the writing realistic and evocative. Historical details are fascinating and must have taken intensive research. From the superstitions, fears and ill-conceived beliefs that abounded in everyday life to the herbal knowledge and the way religion controlled people’s lives. It’s an incredible glimpse into the past where fact and fiction blend seamlessly together.
I chose to read and review Blood Rose Angel for Rosie Amber’s book review team, based on a digital copy from the author.
About the Author
Liza grew up in Australia, working as a general nurse and midwife. She has now been living in France for over twenty years, where she works as a part-time medical translator and a novelist. She is the author of the historical The Bone Angelseries. The first, Spirit of Lost Angels is set in 18thcentury revolutionary France. The second, Wolfsangel is set during the WW2 Nazi Occupation and the French Resistance, and the third novel – Blood Rose Angel –– is set during the 14thcentury Black Plague years.
Her latest novel, The Silent Kookaburra, is a psychological suspense, set in 1970s Australia.
Liza is a co-founder and member of the writers’ collective Triskele Books.
Liza reviews books for Bookmuse.