#BookReview — The Bridled Tongue by Catherine Meyrick
The Bridled Tongue
By Catherine Meyrick
Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Alyce Bradley has few choices when her father decides it is time she marry as many refuse to see her as other than the girl she once was—unruly, outspoken and close to her grandmother, a woman suspected of witchcraft. Thomas Granville, an ambitious privateer, inspires fierce loyalty in those close to him and hatred in those he has crossed. Beyond a large dowry, he is seeking a virtuous and dutiful wife. Neither he nor Alyce expect more from marriage than mutual courtesy and respect. As the King of Spain launches his great armada and England braces for invasion, Alyce must confront closer dangers from both her own and Thomas’s past, threats that could not only destroy her hopes of love and happiness but her life. And Thomas is powerless to help.
“Do not look surprised. It is what every woman wants: husband, children, a household of her own.”
Alyce Bradley knew that her father was right, but at twenty-eight years old, Alyce knew her choice for a husband would be few and far between. But she is reassured in the knowledge that she will have the final say on who she chooses to spend the rest of her life with.
Thomas Granville is in search of a wife, one preferably with a large enough dowry to finance his latest venture. He will treat her with kindness and respect as long as she is, in turn, honourable and courteous. Alyce Bradley seems to be the bride that he has been searching for.
But Thomas Granville has a dark and dangerous history. It is one that will come back to haunt him and his new bride. Likewise, there are ghosts from Alyce’s past that will seek to destroy her.
From the beginnings of a great romance to a trial built on nothing more than malicious tongues and evil hearts, The Bridled Tongue by Catherine Meyrick is the hauntingly evocative romantic story of Thomas Granville and Alyce Bradley.
Catherine Meyrick has woven a tale that held me utterly captive from start to finish. The Bridled Tongue is a heart-wrenchingly compelling story of Alyce Bradley as she navigates the joy and wonder of falling in love with her husband — a love that she had never expected to feel — while trying to survive the slanderous and dangerous accusations that state that she is, in fact, a witch. Told with an impressive sweep and brilliance this story has it all — a dashing hero, a strong heroine and a rumour that threatens to destroy everything. What more can you ask for in a book?
With a powerful narrative that saw me reaching for the Kleenex on more than one occasion and a plot that was tense, powerful and utterly mesmerising, The Bridled Tongue has a lot to recommend it. Reading this novel was like stepping back in time. The small and intimate community that Meyrick has created is rife with gossip and rumours. It is a place where women would rather tear someone down and obliterate their good character than build them up. This story was depicted with incredible skill and diligence. This book, besides being a wonderfully tender romance, is also a story of survival in the face of impossible odds and unthinkable cruelty.
I adored the characterisation of Alyce. Alyce comes from the most dysfunctional family, who facade is one of self-importance and success, but in truth, they are falling apart at the seams. Jealousy is rife, and Alyce with her strong personality and moral sense of what is right and what is wrong doesn’t fit in at all. Although we never meet Alyce’s grandmother, we get the sense that this is who Alyce takes after. Alyce is a very caring woman who wants to help her sister and her family, and when she marries, her husband’s sister and tenants. She is an exceptionally gentle soul which makes what happens to her so incredibly vile. Alyce really drives this story forward, and at times her tale is difficult to read, but it is also gratifying. Her struggles become her strengths, and unlike her sister, Alyce does not give way to bitterness and anger.
Thomas Granville is a somewhat dashing hero who has sailed with Sir Francis Drake and fought the Spanish. He is an ambitious privateer, but as is the way with successful men, there are those that resent and hate him because of his achievements and because of some terribly tragic misunderstanding. Thomas’ past threatens to destroy his future with Alyce, which made this story not just a romantic one, but a thoroughly entertaining one as well. I enjoyed reading about Thomas very much. He is the perfect hero for our brave heroine.
Isabel Sutton, Alyce’s sister, is a genuinely awful person. She is spiteful at the beginning of this novel but by the end of it, she is a bitter and cruel woman who choices to blame all of her tragic loss and unhappiness on Alyce. Isabel tears her family cruelly apart, and I don’t think she even understands why. She is quick to anger and even quicker to point a finger. Isabelle is ruled by her emotions, and also, unfortunately, by her mother-in-law and her father-in-law. Isabel’s own desperately unhappy domestic situation only makes things worse. Jealously really drives Isabel’s character, and although at times she did rouse my pity, her subsequent reaction to these tragic events quelled much of the sympathy I had for her. I thought Meyrick’s depiction of Isabel was incredibly successful and more importantly, believable.
A cruel and vicious witch hunt is a topic that is seldom found in historical romance, but Meyrick has approached this story with a keen eye on the history and another on the human condition. The historical authenticity of this book has to be applauded. Meyrick has really outdone herself. She has captured the very essence of Elizabethan England. In the background of this story is the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the growing threat from the Spanish, but in the forefront of this story, the fortunes and misfortunes of a mercer’s family are where the magic in the writing happens. Meyrick has a visceral understanding of what makes history worth reading, and she has recreated this world into an immensely readable tale. It is rife with intrigue and superstition, as well as being a remarkable love story.
If you are looking for your next great romance, or in fact, historical fiction read for this book crosses that divide, then look no further than The Bridled Tongue by Catherine Meyrick.
I Highly Recommend.
Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.
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The Bridled Tongue
Catherine Meyrick is a writer of historical fiction with a particular love of Elizabethan England. Her stories weave fictional characters into the gaps within the historical record – tales of ordinary people who are very much men and women of their time, yet in so many ways are like us today.
She grew up in regional Victoria, Australia in a family with a love both of storytelling and of history in all its forms. After moving to Melbourne in her late teens, Catherine has worked as a nurse and a tax assessor, among other things, before finally finding her niche as a librarian. She has a Master of Arts in history and is also a family history obsessive.