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The Sumerton Women

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Orphaned at age eight, Lady Cecily Burkhart becomes the ward of Harold Pierce, Earl of Sumerton. The charming Lord Hal and his wife, Lady Grace, immediately welcome sweet-natured Cecily as one of their own. With Brey, their young son, Cecily develops an easy, playful friendship. But their intensely devout daughter, Mirabella, is consumed by her religious vocation—and by he Orphaned at age eight, Lady Cecily Burkhart becomes the ward of Harold Pierce, Earl of Sumerton. The charming Lord Hal and his wife, Lady Grace, immediately welcome sweet-natured Cecily as one of their own. With Brey, their young son, Cecily develops an easy, playful friendship. But their intensely devout daughter, Mirabella, is consumed by her religious vocation—and by her devotion to Father Alec Cahill, the family priest and tutor. With Father Alec as her closest confidant, Cecily begins to glimpse the painful secrets at the heart of the Pierce family. When tragedy strikes at home, and Henry VIII’s obsession with Anne Boleyn leads to violent upheaval across England, Mirabella is robbed of her calling and the future Cecily dreamed of is ripped away in turn. As Cecily struggles to hold together the fractured household, she and Alec also grapple with a dangerous mutual attraction. Plagued with jealousy, Mirabella unleashes a tumultuous chain of events that threatens to destroy everyone around her. For with treachery and suspicion rampant, desire has the power to shatter a family—and tear a kingdom apart…


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Orphaned at age eight, Lady Cecily Burkhart becomes the ward of Harold Pierce, Earl of Sumerton. The charming Lord Hal and his wife, Lady Grace, immediately welcome sweet-natured Cecily as one of their own. With Brey, their young son, Cecily develops an easy, playful friendship. But their intensely devout daughter, Mirabella, is consumed by her religious vocation—and by he Orphaned at age eight, Lady Cecily Burkhart becomes the ward of Harold Pierce, Earl of Sumerton. The charming Lord Hal and his wife, Lady Grace, immediately welcome sweet-natured Cecily as one of their own. With Brey, their young son, Cecily develops an easy, playful friendship. But their intensely devout daughter, Mirabella, is consumed by her religious vocation—and by her devotion to Father Alec Cahill, the family priest and tutor. With Father Alec as her closest confidant, Cecily begins to glimpse the painful secrets at the heart of the Pierce family. When tragedy strikes at home, and Henry VIII’s obsession with Anne Boleyn leads to violent upheaval across England, Mirabella is robbed of her calling and the future Cecily dreamed of is ripped away in turn. As Cecily struggles to hold together the fractured household, she and Alec also grapple with a dangerous mutual attraction. Plagued with jealousy, Mirabella unleashes a tumultuous chain of events that threatens to destroy everyone around her. For with treachery and suspicion rampant, desire has the power to shatter a family—and tear a kingdom apart…

30 review for The Sumerton Women

  1. 5 out of 5

    Natasa

    The Sumerton Women is a book of intertwined destinies, a book of joy, heartache, forbidden attraction, betrayal, and almost unbelievable secrets with some mentions and a cameo of Tudor England’s elite.

  2. 4 out of 5

    May

    Set against the backdrop of religious turmoil during Henry VIII's reign, this book had all the marks of a great read--interesting characters, internal and external conflicts and fascinating historical period. However, the execution was less than desirable. I never got into any of the characters, who seemed flat and in the case of the main heroine, Cecily, very one-dimensional. I get it. She is gorgeous, sweet-tempered and kind-hearted, but honestly, you never get a sense of what she is really th Set against the backdrop of religious turmoil during Henry VIII's reign, this book had all the marks of a great read--interesting characters, internal and external conflicts and fascinating historical period. However, the execution was less than desirable. I never got into any of the characters, who seemed flat and in the case of the main heroine, Cecily, very one-dimensional. I get it. She is gorgeous, sweet-tempered and kind-hearted, but honestly, you never get a sense of what she is really thinking about the enormous political and religious changes happening all around her. Her notion that they nothing can doing about the outside world and that they should focus on life at Summerton seem like a cop out for the writer. Aside from the dangers of childbirth, no one was ever in mortal danger so there was none of the underlying tension that would expect to find in a historical fiction set in this time period. Even though I love melodrama, I found that that without fully developed characters and a sense of danger and intrigue, the plot twists in the storyline are simply too many and too annoying.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Stockard Miller

    Another story set during the perilous times of the Tudor court, the reign of Henry VIII. In truth, there are so many stories that can be told about the people who were affected by his actions. The people in The Sumerton Women are no exception. Ms. Bogdan has taken these lives and brought them vividly to life, amid an accurate historical setting. The characters are real and it became easy to become emotionally invested, especially with Cecily. Her story begins as an orphaned child, but she soon gr Another story set during the perilous times of the Tudor court, the reign of Henry VIII. In truth, there are so many stories that can be told about the people who were affected by his actions. The people in The Sumerton Women are no exception. Ms. Bogdan has taken these lives and brought them vividly to life, amid an accurate historical setting. The characters are real and it became easy to become emotionally invested, especially with Cecily. Her story begins as an orphaned child, but she soon grows into a strong young lady who must face decisions that she never dreamed of facing. And she does so with grace and love. In fact, that is the key to the character of Cecily. She is the embodiment of love. In the discussion questions at the back of the book, this question is asked, "Who in this novel would you describe as being closest to God?" Unequivocally, it is Cecily. Her kindness and strength, her selfless love for all, are the virtues I believe God treasures in a person. Mirabella, the daughter who learns a heartbreaking truth and who is the one who it seemed had an early calling to God, is in fact the farthest from him. I say this because of her pride and judgement of others. While it is admirable that she sought to serve God, in truth it was her own peace that she was seeking, not her desire to serve and help others. In her realization of this truth, she becomes even more zealous in her religious fervor. When she is thrust from her vocation due to the dissolution of the Catholic religious houses, she embarks on a treacherous journey that causes much strife in the lives of her family and her own. And then there is Father Alec Cahill, a priest who is conflicted in his religious convictions and in his role as a priest and wanting to live life as a real man. Thrown in the midst of the tempestuous court of Henry VIII in his service to Archbishop Cranmer, Father Alec is really at the center of The Sumerton Women's religious story. He is a pivotal character with whom the reader can very much relate. Ultimately, The Sumerton Women is a well-researched and thought provoking historical novel. Not only do we feel for the characters and their experiences, we also gain insight into how so many lives were affected by the actions of Henry VIII, and not just the lives at court.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Audra (Unabridged Chick)

    I'm a bit of a broken record, but I'm tired of the Tudors. However, this Tudor fic entertained me with its focus on one family's response to Henry VIII's break with Rome. The Sumerton clan, seemingly blessed with love, health, and wealth, is actually wracked with secrets and guilt and pain. Cecily Burkhart, orphaned at 8, moves in with the Sumertons and finds herself mostly happily with her new family. Quickly, however, she sees their sunny facades hide real tragedy, made worse when Henry VIII m I'm a bit of a broken record, but I'm tired of the Tudors. However, this Tudor fic entertained me with its focus on one family's response to Henry VIII's break with Rome. The Sumerton clan, seemingly blessed with love, health, and wealth, is actually wracked with secrets and guilt and pain. Cecily Burkhart, orphaned at 8, moves in with the Sumertons and finds herself mostly happily with her new family. Quickly, however, she sees their sunny facades hide real tragedy, made worse when Henry VIII makes himself head of a new church in England. I really loved this Tudor angle, and for a book that has a huge religious bent to it, the story is neither overly philosophical or cheese-ily inspirational. In fact, there's a crazy tawdriness to the plot twists, reminding me a bit of Phillipa Gregory, with [spoiler here so don't read on if you want to be surprised!!] the heroine marrying her foster father, a beloved priest marrying his student. My only complaint, perhaps, is that our heroine, Cecily, was a bit much for me -- she was one of those preternaturally gorgeous heroines that everyone responds to, smart and sweet and gentle and talented -- so I found myself rolling my eyes every time she swept on stage. She was such a pill I actually found myself rooting for the arch-villainess, Mirabella, her foster sister. The plot twists and dramatic developments were non-stop, and for me, a bit discomforting although potentially historically accurate. As escapist historical fiction, this is a winner: the drama is non-stop. I don't know if any of these characters are based on historical figures, or just inventions of Bogdan, but I really loved this angle of Tudor fic, even if the plot twists verged on Gothic. The writing style is great -- easy, breezy, fun -- and I was sucked in immediately. I can't attest to the historical accuracy but for speed and escapism, this one doesn't fail.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Arleigh

    Cecily Burkhart is eight years old when she joins the Sumerton household after tragically losing both her parents to illness. Resilient and cheerfully optimistic, her presence brings much needed felicity to the topically common, yet secretive family. As time passes, Cecily learns why the castle is run by a skeleton staff and the Earl and Countess live mostly separate lives. All the while, Father Alec, who serves as chaplain and tutor, keeps the children occupied with lessons and outdoor activiti Cecily Burkhart is eight years old when she joins the Sumerton household after tragically losing both her parents to illness. Resilient and cheerfully optimistic, her presence brings much needed felicity to the topically common, yet secretive family. As time passes, Cecily learns why the castle is run by a skeleton staff and the Earl and Countess live mostly separate lives. All the while, Father Alec, who serves as chaplain and tutor, keeps the children occupied with lessons and outdoor activities, striving for a modicum of normalcy. Thirteen-year-old Mirabella is fanatically Catholic and dreams of becoming a nun at the local convent, Sumerton Abbey. She is full of lectures and fiercely obstinate, especially toward Lady Grace, the Countess. The son and heir, Brey, is Cecily’s playmate and companion–but life at Sumerton is soon to be torn apart, a parallel to the events happening in England–Henry VIII’s break with Rome and marriage to Anne Boleyn. This story follows the Sumertons through many years and much turmoil–though interlaced with heartwarming moments as well. Without giving too much away (which is extremely hard with this particular read) I will just say that I was completely immersed in this book from beginning to end. Not only are the characters genuine and (mostly) endearing, but the setting and historical details are immaculate. Emotionally charged scenes and believable twists accompany the characters through an unforgettable ending. This book is a prime example why D. L. Bogdan is one of my favorite Tudor novelists!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    Sumerton Women begins with a girl of eight, Cecily, suddenly orphaned when her entire family dies of an illness. She becomes a ward of the Sumerton family, where she experiences mostly suffering and loss with a few breaks for happiness. Every relationship is touched by sadness or tragedy or misunderstanding, and although Cecily manages to bring new life to the family, after a while she gets sucked into it herself and the brightness that she brings to the story dulls, especially in the last half Sumerton Women begins with a girl of eight, Cecily, suddenly orphaned when her entire family dies of an illness. She becomes a ward of the Sumerton family, where she experiences mostly suffering and loss with a few breaks for happiness. Every relationship is touched by sadness or tragedy or misunderstanding, and although Cecily manages to bring new life to the family, after a while she gets sucked into it herself and the brightness that she brings to the story dulls, especially in the last half when her falsely pious 'sister' takes center stage. The story takes place during the reign of Henry VIII, and the family is affected by Henry's whims, their potential fortunes shifting with each of his wives. With a nun whose Priory is dissolved and a priest who welcomes the chance for reforms, the consequences of Henry's attitudes towards the Church become personal. I enjoyed the opposing viewpoints of the Catholics vs the Reformists, both falling on dangerous times. What I almost couldn't bear was the bitter, self-righteous vengefulness of the daughter who continually ruins everyone's lives - and is 'spiritual' for all the wrong reasons. This was an emotional story full of tragedy, loss and bitterness. It was engrossing, but too often depressing. There were at least a couple breaks from the despair, and the historical aspect was interesting enough, so I decided to raise my rating to two stars.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hafiza

    Tedious soap opera set in Tudor England. Lady Cecily grows fom orphan to perfect little "Mary Sue" type character. Of course she is stunningly beautiful with teal eyes and red gold hair. Father Alec reminds me of Father Ralph from the "Thorn Birds"- devoted to his calling but in love with the perfectly beautiful Cecily. The fly in the honey is Mirabella- a one dimensional evil character. The whole book was trite. Characters conveniently die to make way for a HEA. I do not recommend it- it was a shallo Tedious soap opera set in Tudor England. Lady Cecily grows fom orphan to perfect little "Mary Sue" type character. Of course she is stunningly beautiful with teal eyes and red gold hair. Father Alec reminds me of Father Ralph from the "Thorn Birds"- devoted to his calling but in love with the perfectly beautiful Cecily. The fly in the honey is Mirabella- a one dimensional evil character. The whole book was trite. Characters conveniently die to make way for a HEA. I do not recommend it- it was a shallow read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sylwia Zupanec

    I was lucky enough to receive signed copy of D.L. Bogdan’s “Sumerton Women” before the novel’s release date (24 April 2012). Hm, where do I start? First of all – “The Sumerton Women” is now officially my favourite historical novel so far. It has everything – great storyline, vivid characters and historical background. Lady Cecily Burkhart’s parents died due to Sweating Sickness that ravaged England in 1527. Orphaned as eight-year-old girl, Cecily becomes ward to the Pierce family. Although Cecily I was lucky enough to receive signed copy of D.L. Bogdan’s “Sumerton Women” before the novel’s release date (24 April 2012). Hm, where do I start? First of all – “The Sumerton Women” is now officially my favourite historical novel so far. It has everything – great storyline, vivid characters and historical background. Lady Cecily Burkhart’s parents died due to Sweating Sickness that ravaged England in 1527. Orphaned as eight-year-old girl, Cecily becomes ward to the Pierce family. Although Cecily grieves after her beloved parents, she quickly adapts to new environment and she grows to love her new family. She becomes a spark of sunshine in Pierce’s life, and although at the beginning they seem a happy family, Cecily slowly discovers their dark and painful secrets. Lord Harold ‘Hal’ Pierce, The Earl of Sumerton, is a kind and loving man. He shares an uneasy relationship with his wife Grace, who drowns her sorrows in wine. Their marriage is strained by a painful secret, but I will not reveal what kind of secret it is – I don’t want to spoil your joy of reading the story. Then there are Hal’s and Grace’s children; Cecily’s age-mate Brey and consumed with desire to become a nun Mirabella. Brey is a lively child who quickly develops friendship with Cecily. Mirabella from the other hand is a quick witted girl, so intensely devoted to Church, resenting all the earthly joys. And finally there is Father Alec Cahill, the children’s beloved tutor and family’s spiritual support. He is a young priest who develops an interest in so called New Learning that quickly spreads though England as the King Henry VIII’s love for Anne Boleyn increases. As an heiress of huge fortune and lands, Cecily becomes engaged to Brey. They develop a beautiful friendship and once Cecily realizes how happy she will be as Brey’s future wife, she finds her inner peace and stability. But when the tragedy strucks, everything changes for Cecily and the whole Pierce family. Now, I would like to avoid describing the events in the book, but I am telling you – the story is so wonderful and so surprising at times, that you will easily get soaked into it! D.L.Bogdan’s novel has so many layers – you think you know how the story will develop, but when it unfolds before your eyes many new twists and turns are leaving you astonished and craving for more! This book is a real page-turner and I must say that D.L. Bogdan created a beautiful tale about eternal love, friendship, pain, betrayal, passion and simple, human need of being loved. The novel is very carefully researched – I loved D.L. Bogdan’s portrayal of the Tudor court. There are glimpses at Anne Boleyn, woman who stirred so many emotions – from Cecily’s admiration to Mirabella’s hatred. Later in the novel, Father Alec joins Archbishop Cranmer’s household and it was a wonderful chance to learn about Cranmer’s views through Father Alec’s eyes. What I love about this novel is the fact, that we are able to see many Tudor characters though eyes of novel characters. For example; Cecily admires Anne Boleyn’s strength while Mirabella is burning with hatred against New Learning and Anne herself. “The Summerton Women” is a great read, and simply magnificent family saga set in a time of crucial changes in the reign of the Tudor kings. D.L. Bogdan’s style of writing is amazing – she pays such a close attention to details! The settings were described so vividly that I almost felt the smell of fresh country air, and with eyes of my imagination I was able to see the Sumerton Castle. Characters were living their own life on pages of this novel, and I literally felt part of their family. Lady Cecily matured before my eyes – from an orphaned girl she became a lady in her own right, a wife and a mother. Cecily is such a lovable character! Other characters are also very enjoyable and I must say that two of them deserve a special mention – Mirabella who hides her own desires under the façade of divine calling, and Father Alec who is an intelligent and kind man. Every single character in this book has its own story to tell. In the end of the novel I felt quite sad because it was over. When I finished reading, I felt as if a dear friend was departing. This is how powerful impact this beautiful story had on me. I found it really fascinating that the lives of fictional characters ware intertwined with life of real historic figures. We have a glimpse on Anne Boleyn, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, Jane Seymour, Lady Mary Tudor, Robert Aske, even king Henry VIII himself, and many more. “The Summerton Women” will be published April 24 2012. I heartily recommend you this amazing novel!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Hughes

    Am I the only one who didn't like this book? It constantly seemed to be ending and then dragged out for a little longer. The main character that this book opens up is then relegated to the edges. It feels fractured and almost aimless. We build up towards Cecily and Brey's life, preparing them to deal with an alcoholic Grace and gambling Hal then PLOT TWIST Brey and Grace are dead and suddenly Cecily's married the man she's looked up to as a father, without barely a complaint. Mirabella's abrasiv Am I the only one who didn't like this book? It constantly seemed to be ending and then dragged out for a little longer. The main character that this book opens up is then relegated to the edges. It feels fractured and almost aimless. We build up towards Cecily and Brey's life, preparing them to deal with an alcoholic Grace and gambling Hal then PLOT TWIST Brey and Grace are dead and suddenly Cecily's married the man she's looked up to as a father, without barely a complaint. Mirabella's abrasive nature isn't exactly eased by living in a convent and she's confusing her crush on the family priest for love of God (easy mistake, being a teenage girl is hard - it doesn't matter what era you're living in.) It's a badly made tapestry of Tudor life, the rents in this woven picture are unsightly, covered with domesticity of a roller-coaster(ish) family. All the while, the story that's mentioned on the back of the covers seems thoroughly impossible with the number of pages I've got left and I'm fearing it's going to be rushed after the incredibly slow build up I've already had to endure. There isn't one central point and while many may argue that this is what life in the Tudor period was like we seemed to skip through a few queens without nothing more than brief paragraph on each woman's downfall. Within the space of ten or so pages we've gone from Jane Seymour's death to Catherine Howard's death. That's quite a chunk of Tudor history that just skips past and the time framing doesn't seem entirely obvious. However I am only a certain way through, so I'm willing to tolerate reading this until I reach the end. We'll see if my mind is changed. Okay I'm back and well it picked up but still...not a fan!! There's not much more I can add to that, it's ending was a little off and I'll leave it as a two star review instead of my original one but it's not a book I'll re-read!!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Meg - A Bookish Affair

    At its core, this story is really about family. What makes a family and how we interact with those in our family. Cecily is lucky enough to be taken in as a ward of Lord Hal and Lady Grace. She is put in a very good position where she may not have been if she was still with her own family. The fate of Cecily becomes inextricably linked with Hal and Grace's family even though they are not her blood family. Even though the book is told from a third person point of view, I thought it was sort of in At its core, this story is really about family. What makes a family and how we interact with those in our family. Cecily is lucky enough to be taken in as a ward of Lord Hal and Lady Grace. She is put in a very good position where she may not have been if she was still with her own family. The fate of Cecily becomes inextricably linked with Hal and Grace's family even though they are not her blood family. Even though the book is told from a third person point of view, I thought it was sort of interesting to see how wardship sort of worked. It seems so many times, there is such a big focus on blood and blood relations that it was interesting to see that things didn't always happen that way. This is the first book that talked about wardship that I can remember reading! While this book takes place during the Tudor era, there isn't much of the Tudors in the book. Princess Mary appears in the book and the events surrounding Henry VIII are discussed but no one appears in the book besides Princess Mary. This isn't a criticism but for someone looking for another tale of the Tudor court, you aren't going to find it here. All of the different changes that were occurring in society definitely are present in the book. Reformation plays a huge role in this book. The family story is really the star of this book. It's the alliances they make, the secrets they keep, and the decision they choose. I do wish that I knew more about Mirabella's decisions and why she decided to do things the way that she did. She doesn't seem to think anything through!!! Bottom line: historical fiction lovers will love this new take on such an infamous era in English history.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Blodeuedd Finland

    The story of two women. One meek, one fanatical. I tried to find some information about these people, but could not. So I have no idea who is real or not. What is fact or fiction. Cecily was orphaned and made a ward of the Lord of Sumerton. We get to see her story, her growing up. Always kind, nice, and meek. She follows. In that way she is never really interesting. Mirabella. I do like evil characters, but she was not good evil. Ugh, not even a bitch. No, I could not even hate her. She was loathso The story of two women. One meek, one fanatical. I tried to find some information about these people, but could not. So I have no idea who is real or not. What is fact or fiction. Cecily was orphaned and made a ward of the Lord of Sumerton. We get to see her story, her growing up. Always kind, nice, and meek. She follows. In that way she is never really interesting. Mirabella. I do like evil characters, but she was not good evil. Ugh, not even a bitch. No, I could not even hate her. She was loathsome. Too fanatical, not a good bone in her, just creepy. Too creepy. Even with that it could have been good. But for me one thing did not work. Suddenly they were talking, or having dinner. Then in the next paragraph it was 3 years later. It constantly jumped in time and I never knew how much. I could only keep track when they mentioned who Henry had married. So for me it was too jumpy.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mary Grand

    enjoyed this book. the title actually has very little to do with the story. not as good as Philippa Gregory but enjoyable.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Smith

    I didnt know what to think of this book when o started to read it. Normally not one for books from this era, I really enjoyed reading it and glad I did.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Bruce

    what a great book! this takes place during the religious progression, to the Church of England, under Henry VIII. definitely a page turner!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey

    Lady Cecily Burkhart’s parents pass on when she is only eight years old. Father Alec Cahill is sent by the Pierce family to bring Cecily to them as their ward. Being the sole heiress to a huge fortune, she is quickly betrothed to their son Brey and as they grow their friendship flourishes. Underneath the seemingly peaceful façade of the family lie many dark secrets. After Brey falls ill and dies and his mother disappears, Hal Pierce feels that he would be a good match for Cecily and against Fath Lady Cecily Burkhart’s parents pass on when she is only eight years old. Father Alec Cahill is sent by the Pierce family to bring Cecily to them as their ward. Being the sole heiress to a huge fortune, she is quickly betrothed to their son Brey and as they grow their friendship flourishes. Underneath the seemingly peaceful façade of the family lie many dark secrets. After Brey falls ill and dies and his mother disappears, Hal Pierce feels that he would be a good match for Cecily and against Father Alec’s advice, proposes to Cecily. Hal’s daughter Mirabella whose only dream is to enter the convent, finds anger starting to build and when she explodes there will be no saving those in her path. I loved every single part of The Sumerton Women. It invoked in me all the emotions that I love to experience when I am reading. Cecily is the epitome of someone that always wants to do the right thing but yet she is flawed. Your heart cries for her. Hal is a good man deep down but carries regret and shame with him. Mirabella is not an easy character to love but you start to think if only things were different would she have been able to forgive earlier and not let the anger fester until she starts a series of events that leave many destroyed. Then there is Father Alec, the constant in all their lives yet seriously flawed as well. He starts out as the children’s tutor and spiritual support but becomes family and at times the lines blur for him and Cecily. The friendships and relationships all these characters have shape and mold them. I was especially heartbroken for Alice, Cecily’s friend. But I will let you find out why. I always love a good Tudor novel and I enjoyed the fact you see how Henry VIII’s decisions affected the people he ruled. Not only does Henry VIII not know what he wants, his people are even more confused and this confusion causes divides in families and friends. The reader discovers all this while following the Pierce family’s trials and tribulations. Excellent historical fiction read and I highly recommend! (ARC was provided by publisher for an honest review)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marie Burton

    Wish they had 4.5 star ratings.. Set at a fictional estate of Sumerton, Bogdan reenters the Tudor courts in a different fashion with this new novel. Fresh new characters breeze through the tyranny of King Henry VIII's reforms, but not everyone comes away unscathed. The root of this story is as the title suggests, with women who love the Earl of Sumerton. The Earl is a sweet man, with little faults, except for his inability to break through to his alcoholic wife, Lady Grace. And herein lies the pro Wish they had 4.5 star ratings.. Set at a fictional estate of Sumerton, Bogdan reenters the Tudor courts in a different fashion with this new novel. Fresh new characters breeze through the tyranny of King Henry VIII's reforms, but not everyone comes away unscathed. The root of this story is as the title suggests, with women who love the Earl of Sumerton. The Earl is a sweet man, with little faults, except for his inability to break through to his alcoholic wife, Lady Grace. And herein lies the problem with the rest of the review. If I say much about his children, and his ward Lady Cecily, I would give away intriguingly spicy plot points which would otherwise ruin the story for the potential reader. I was warned ahead of time that the synopsis alone gave away a piece of the story, and I kept my promise to myself to not read the synopsis, and I have shortened the one above. This is a story where the Church and one's own faith collides with that of the Kings' and their own family; this is a story where family ties are put to the test; this is a story that offers an intriguing slice of life set against a very tumultuous time in England. The political games are the backdrop, with the religious upheaval and the reforms more at the forefront, and they effect and inspire the Sumerton women differently. I loved the characters, their flaws, and their traits, and most especially enjoyed the family drama that was the focus as opposed to simply focusing on yet another Tudor figure. There are appearances by the King, and the Queens, and Cranmer, who are there to set the historical tone. There are births, deaths, and marriages.. where betrayal, trust and loyalty are all intertwined in a fast-paced saga that I would recommend to readers who appreciate the Tudor era. I enjoy Bogdan's writing style and always look forward to her work, (all of her Tudor books have been a delight) but I was thrilled how Bogdan channeled some V.C. Andrews for The Sumerton Women!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Kelly

    The Sumerton Women is a historical novel that takes place during the reign of Henry Tudor although he is not a main character his deeds as king definitely affect the Sumerton household.. At the beginning of the novel Lady Cecily Burkhart is a small child and is taken as ward to Harold Pierce, Earl of Sumerton after the death of her parents. She grows up in the household with their children Brey and Mirabella and are tutored by Father Alec. Harold and his wife Grace do not have a good relationshi The Sumerton Women is a historical novel that takes place during the reign of Henry Tudor although he is not a main character his deeds as king definitely affect the Sumerton household.. At the beginning of the novel Lady Cecily Burkhart is a small child and is taken as ward to Harold Pierce, Earl of Sumerton after the death of her parents. She grows up in the household with their children Brey and Mirabella and are tutored by Father Alec. Harold and his wife Grace do not have a good relationship, which is not unusual in the 1500's among the nobility. The household is a sad place to live but the children persevere and with the tutoring and mentoring of Father Alec they have a relatively happy childhood. Cecily is betrothed to Brey but he falls ill and dies young. Mirabella wants nothing more than to become a nun and has strong feelings for Father Alec. After the death of her mother she goes to the monastery to give her life to God. But things do not always work out as planned and after the monastery is dissolved her world and dreams are turned upside down. Cecily marries Harold and becomes Lady Sumerton and is happy with the Harold and their family, until a dark secret and vindictive people threaten their happiness. The Sumerton Women is a character driven story about a family who's secrets threaten the very existence and tears the family apart, but it is also a story of redemption, forgiveness, love and hope in a time where the political climate is at it's worst where anything can happen. A wonderful historical novel which had me in tears more than once... I highly recommend it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marci

    Wow, this was a great book! A detail rich, complex story, deep with intrigue, scandal, and religious conflict. Beginning in the time period of King Henry's "great matter", main character Cecily is orphaned at a young age. Sent to be fostered with the Pierce family, Cecily embarks on a roller coaster ride of emotional heartbreak, love triangles, deception, and life altering changes that will follow her, and change her throughout her days. Twists, and turns throughout this book, kept me glued to i Wow, this was a great book! A detail rich, complex story, deep with intrigue, scandal, and religious conflict. Beginning in the time period of King Henry's "great matter", main character Cecily is orphaned at a young age. Sent to be fostered with the Pierce family, Cecily embarks on a roller coaster ride of emotional heartbreak, love triangles, deception, and life altering changes that will follow her, and change her throughout her days. Twists, and turns throughout this book, kept me glued to it, and always wondering what could happen next. Amazing writing, this author really knows her stuff! I have read all of D.L. Bogdan's novels so far, and she has quickly become one of my favorite Historical fiction writers. Deep characters, an intriguing storyline, love triangles, and scandal, all wrapped up in our beloved world of Tudor England. What more can you ask for in a novel. I cannot wait to read her next book!!

  19. 4 out of 5

    NayNay

    The Tudor period is by far my favorite time period to read about and THE SUMERTON WOMEN is exactly what I love about historical fiction! It was a fast paced and easy to read. It is full of painful secrets, jealousy, sorrow, love and religious turmoil. After reading Bogdan's, SECRETS OF THE TUDOR COURT and RIVALS IN THE TUDOR COURT I thought she could do no better, they were both excellent book....But she did, this book was far better than 5 stars. D.L. Bogdan has become my favorite author, I loo The Tudor period is by far my favorite time period to read about and THE SUMERTON WOMEN is exactly what I love about historical fiction! It was a fast paced and easy to read. It is full of painful secrets, jealousy, sorrow, love and religious turmoil. After reading Bogdan's, SECRETS OF THE TUDOR COURT and RIVALS IN THE TUDOR COURT I thought she could do no better, they were both excellent book....But she did, this book was far better than 5 stars. D.L. Bogdan has become my favorite author, I look forward to her future books. THE SUMERTON WOMEN is a well written historical fiction, sure to please. Any fan of this genre, read this books!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jeannie

    The positives; it was an interesting premise to examine the effects of huge political and religious changes on a family, the negatives; it was far to long and got bogged down in the second half to the point it needed supernatural help to move the story on. The number of historical inaccuracies grated all the way through. Politically someone who held an Earldom would not have allowed to languish in the countryside. The Tudor kings liked to keep the aristocracy close, it was a way of controlling t The positives; it was an interesting premise to examine the effects of huge political and religious changes on a family, the negatives; it was far to long and got bogged down in the second half to the point it needed supernatural help to move the story on. The number of historical inaccuracies grated all the way through. Politically someone who held an Earldom would not have allowed to languish in the countryside. The Tudor kings liked to keep the aristocracy close, it was a way of controlling them.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    This book was a book I won with firstreads. I loved it! It was a book that had so many twists and turns, I could not predict the ending at all. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, but I hadn't read one in awhile. Without winning this book, I wouldn't have gotten back into reading historical fiction. Thank goodness for Memorial Day Weekend so I could read this book all day Saturday and Sunday! Can't wait to read the rest of the books written by this author! This book was a book I won with firstreads. I loved it! It was a book that had so many twists and turns, I could not predict the ending at all. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, but I hadn't read one in awhile. Without winning this book, I wouldn't have gotten back into reading historical fiction. Thank goodness for Memorial Day Weekend so I could read this book all day Saturday and Sunday! Can't wait to read the rest of the books written by this author!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Hmm...some of the reviews on the book said "beautifully written redemptive story" but the jury is still out on that for me. Mirabella's character was horrifying in her selfish destruction of the lives of those she supposedly loves. She was quite ridiculous. There were too many freaky twists in the book and yet the only satisfying one is the one we are left to guess at. Not to mention the slow pace of the story. Hmm...some of the reviews on the book said "beautifully written redemptive story" but the jury is still out on that for me. Mirabella's character was horrifying in her selfish destruction of the lives of those she supposedly loves. She was quite ridiculous. There were too many freaky twists in the book and yet the only satisfying one is the one we are left to guess at. Not to mention the slow pace of the story.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I really got a kick out of this author's "Secrets of the Tudor Court," books, which use both real and fictional characters and events in a way that is a lot of fun. However, her latest, "The Sumerton Women," is almost entirely dependent on fictional, soap-opera-ish events and characters--making for a novel that is inferior to the writer's other efforts. I really got a kick out of this author's "Secrets of the Tudor Court," books, which use both real and fictional characters and events in a way that is a lot of fun. However, her latest, "The Sumerton Women," is almost entirely dependent on fictional, soap-opera-ish events and characters--making for a novel that is inferior to the writer's other efforts.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Buchta

    I'm not completely finished but, at 80% complete, I'm already a little tired of hearing about how the characters sinned and just feel so awful for sinning. And then they sinned against god some more. I'm not completely finished but, at 80% complete, I'm already a little tired of hearing about how the characters sinned and just feel so awful for sinning. And then they sinned against god some more.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Saba

    I don't know I found it a bit disturbing. Too twisted. I don't know I found it a bit disturbing. Too twisted.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    So predictable, and yet really well-written. Enjoyed this A LOT and rushed to get to the exciting end!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Starts out like Secret Garden, and is set in the Tudor age, which I guess the author supposed would guarantee success. NOT! Shallow, soap opera. ugh

  28. 5 out of 5

    H.K. Rainey

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I was surprised to find so many five star reviews of this book, actually. Though it is slated as "historical fiction," it reads more like a person living today would imagine life during the Renaissance to be, not actually how it was. The dialogue is stilted and unrealistic, and the characters, especially Cecily, suffer from being loved too much by the author. First of all, we cannot forget that when Cecily is brought to Sumerton, she is eight years old, yet, she understands fully that she is wan I was surprised to find so many five star reviews of this book, actually. Though it is slated as "historical fiction," it reads more like a person living today would imagine life during the Renaissance to be, not actually how it was. The dialogue is stilted and unrealistic, and the characters, especially Cecily, suffer from being loved too much by the author. First of all, we cannot forget that when Cecily is brought to Sumerton, she is eight years old, yet, she understands fully that she is wanted for her fortune and she seems to understand how the respectability politics of the age work. Her attitude is completely unlike an eight year old's at all. Unless he or she is Little Man Tate, an eight year old is not emotionally capable of understanding complex human relationships. If we think about what we knew when we were eight, it was basically nothing. Even today, an eight year old can't comprehend why mommy and daddy divorced and why they can't be married anymore. Eight year olds don't even understand that when you grow up, you don't HAVE to get married. The emotional maturity of Cecily at that age tries to force us to forget that the child has just literally spent the first couple of chapters in a wardrobe. The author clearly loves Cecily too much and has given her character inauthentic traits for an eight year old because she can't bear to make the child real and flawed. How much more difficult would the story be if, rather than being loved by her new family, Cecily was used by them and exploited because of her naivete, which would have been much more likely. It would have been harder for the author to imagine and represent Cecily as a real eight year old character with flaws and vulnerabilities instead of a thirty year old in a child's body. Not only that, but Cecily will apparently have a turn at being loved by all the men in the novel (more wishful thinking than reality) which probably would not have been the case. Her beauty would have been less of an asset and more of a liability in that age as men would have been much more predatory toward her. In the real Renaissance Age, Cecily's innocence and good nature would not have made it very far. Next, there is Lord Hal's night "out with the lads" during which he believes he has forced a woman to sleep with him, and now views himself as a rapist. For Lord Hal, this sentence indicates the modern day equivalent of "going out to the bar with the guys." I highly doubt that men of the Renaissance said things like, "I'm going out with the lads." That is more what a person in the modern age might imagine a man from that era to have said, not what he actually would have said. (Nor would he likely have felt it necessary to explain at all, being a noble, and thus privileged.) Hal's devastation from this one bad act is completely unrealistic. First of all, men in that age (and even some today) did not view women as people "to be loved and protected" as Bogdan states Hal's father and God's commandments taught him to do. This kind of treatment of women wasn't even "God's commandment" at the time. Rather, during the time Bogdan is writing about, the reformers Martin Luther and others were saying things like "women were made to be either wives or prostitutes" and "no gown worse becomes a woman than the desire to be wise." These reformers were reading and giving credence to thoughts like Tertullian's: "Woman is a temple built over a sewer." The fact of the matter is that during the Renaissance and Protestant Reformation of King Henry the VIII's time, women were not respected or beloved at all. (This is evident in the ways that even Bogdan's characters call Anne Boleyn a "whore" and a "creature.") Women were considered offspring of Eve, who alone was responsible for man's expulsion from the Garden of Eden, and the whole reason Jesus had to die in the first place. As such, women were treated as chattel and goods, things to be traded to ally families and bring peace between kingdoms. They weren't treated as people at all. Rather, Lord Hal would likely not have felt bad at all about sleeping with Julia. He probably would have considered her a whore for letting him, and would believe that she was in her rightful place in the convent. He would probably view her as the one in need of forgiveness, not himself. (If you don't think that's true, you can look at something modern like the controversy surrounding Brock Turner, the rapist, who himself blamed his victim for being drunk and was supported by the legal system in that assessment.) In fact, men, especially noblemen, considered sleeping with women their right. Many of them didn't even bother to hide it. And men took care of children that were not "legitimate" all the time, so Mirabella's origins likely would not have been a secret anyway. It's more likely that Hal would have forced Grace to "deal" with his indiscretions because, as a nobleman, he was raised to believe that he was special and privileged and deserving of taking whatever he wanted. Noblemen weren't known for considering the feelings of others. (They still aren't today.) The whole idea that Hal would have felt guilt for his actions is a completely modern idea based on today's social norms and romantic movies, not something that would likely have happened back then. Besides, it would have been better for the story's conflict if, rather than a "one-time" event, Hal had had a deeper, longer lasting relationship with Julia, but wouldn't marry her because of her status. Not only that, but for Lord Hal's money and station, Grace would have been much more likely to forgive her husband for one indiscretion than for a longer lasting one. I find it hard to believe that Grace ruins her own life because of this one event when it is much more likely that in this situation, she would have found ways to rationalize her marriage to Lord Hal and forget his transgression by saying, "it was only that one time." But Bogdan loves Hal so much and wants him to be a good person that she cannot let him have real male flaws or the flaws that accompanied the privileged attitudes of nobles. There is no bad in him, and that makes him one-dimensional and unreal. Bogdan's characters shift allegiances with very little difficulty at all, which contributes to their one-dimensional natures. The idea that Lady Cecily would have married Lord Hal, her father figure, without some amount of difficulty is unrealistic. I mean, imagine marrying your stepfather with no problem at all! It's much more likely, and better for the conflict of the novel, that rather than marry Lord Hal with no issues, Cecily would take a little while to at least "come around." Not only that, but her age wouldn't have been that big of a deal. Girls were considered marrying age when they were able to bear children, thus this idea of "too young" is really more of a modern social construct that likely would not have been thought about then, especially considering that people didn't live as long due to low quality medical care. (We still believed in the old "humour" theory, and thought bleeding was a viable treatment.) These characters are so grossly exaggerated in their traits that they don't seem real. They're more like caricatures of people, not people themselves. For example, Lady Grace is a drooling drunk. Watching her feels like I'm watching an episode of Renaissance Intervention. Grace seems more like what a person who has never known a drunk imagines a drunk would be. Hal, an addictive gambler, readily gives up his gambling addiction for Cecily. Would that all addictions could just be given up because someone asks the addict to! Not to mention, all the characters are beautiful and rich and intelligent. What is the likelihood of that happening? It's much more likely that some of them would be ugly or syphilitic, or have certain unattractive qualities that are tolerated because of the characters' station or wealth. Bogdan's characters don't have annoying human traits or many internal conflicts aside from their vices. Mostly, it's the dialogue that's stilted. The characters never interrupt each other and all of their motives are largely understood by the other characters. There aren't any misunderstandings or real sounding conversations. The syntax is all wrong. It's possible that the plot might be interesting if these people were more real, or if they even resembled real human beings of the age. D.L. Bogdan may be a "history major," but she hasn't spent much time considering the personal politics of the Renaissance/ Protestant Reformation age, nor has she given much thought to how people really behave.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Starting this book was bittersweet as it was the last book by Bogdan that I haven't read yet and then I'm all out of her books. I've loved all of her other books and this one started off great as well. I loved Cecily, Brey, and Father Alec right away. Their personalities and interactions were perfectly written. As the story went on, there was no shortage of heartbreak. I wanted to see how the characters would overcome the pain and move forward. There were also an abundance of secrets being revea Starting this book was bittersweet as it was the last book by Bogdan that I haven't read yet and then I'm all out of her books. I've loved all of her other books and this one started off great as well. I loved Cecily, Brey, and Father Alec right away. Their personalities and interactions were perfectly written. As the story went on, there was no shortage of heartbreak. I wanted to see how the characters would overcome the pain and move forward. There were also an abundance of secrets being revealed. Many were quite shocking. All of these things together made this a fascinating and brilliantly written book. The deeper I got into the story, the more secrets and hidden thoughts and feelings presented themselves. It got very hard to put this book down once everything started coming to a head. I loved the way that the Pierces' stories were weaved alongside Henvy VIII and England at the time. It really made a startling and dramatic backdrop for everything they were going through. When the jealousy and vengeance came to a head, I was in a state of shock and awe. I hadn't seen things taking the turn that they had and it really made me want to race to the conclusion and know how things would end. The drama was so perfectly written by Bogdan. This book was incredible! I truly hope that Bogdan will write more books for me to devour in the future.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Juliet Mike

    Not much actual betrayal or Tudor court but nonetheless an enjoyable and entertaining read. Melodramatic (but that's not necessarily a criticism): the incredible heroine!!! deaths galore!!! loves thwarted!!! hot priests!!! ghosts!!!! Clodhopping plot signals: eg Sister Julia's appearance, Grace's death. Anachronistic: Whole character of Hal with his soft gazes , "soft tones", "endearing sweetness" and "wistfulness" seems very unlikely for a Tudor nobleman. His emotional literacy is very 21st centu Not much actual betrayal or Tudor court but nonetheless an enjoyable and entertaining read. Melodramatic (but that's not necessarily a criticism): the incredible heroine!!! deaths galore!!! loves thwarted!!! hot priests!!! ghosts!!!! Clodhopping plot signals: eg Sister Julia's appearance, Grace's death. Anachronistic: Whole character of Hal with his soft gazes , "soft tones", "endearing sweetness" and "wistfulness" seems very unlikely for a Tudor nobleman. His emotional literacy is very 21st century. Also jarring lines such as Henry VIII's "paranoia increased with his belt size." All Hal could do was "pray for her recovery, both mentally and physically." Father Alec's words "swirled in her head, persistent as a migraine."

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