The Miracle at St. Bruno’s by Philippa Carr


Open Road Media digital reissue date: February 19, 2013


The first book in Philippa Carr’s celebrated Daughters of England series is at once a love story, a mystery, and an epic historical saga set during the tumultuous reign of Henry VIII.

Damask Farland, named after a rose, is captivated by the mysterious orphan Bruno. Discovered upon the abbey altar on Christmas morning, then raised by monks, Bruno becomes the great man whom Damask grows to love—only to be shattered by his cruel betrayal.

This dramatic coming-of-age novel is set in sixteenth-century England, during the chaotic years when Henry VIII stunned the royal court by setting his sights on Anne Boleyn. It’s also the tale of a man whom many believed to be a holy prophet … until a shocking truth is unearthed in the shadows of a centuries-old abbey.

RHFL Classification:

Tudor England-1500s
Heat Rating: 1
Review Rating: 3.5 STARS

Review by Ginger Myrick

The Miracle at St. Bruno’s by Philippa Carr is the first novel in the Daughters of England series. It opens during the time of ‘the king’s secret matter’—King Henry VIII’s attempt to put away his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, to marry Anne Boleyn—and moves through the reigns of his successors, concluding shortly after the coronation of Elizabeth I. It is the coming of age story of Damask Farland, the daughter in a privileged household with mysterious ties to neighboring St. Bruno’s Abbey. The tale revolves around the relationship between Damask, her vibrant cousin Kate, and Bruno, the miracle child from next door. Damask finds herself caught up in the middle of the intrigue as the romantic idealizations of her youth deteriorate into a loveless union with a man desperately attempting to maintain his reputation of divine origin.

Painting a vivid picture rich with historical detail, The Miracle at St. Bruno’s gives an enlightening perspective of life in continual upheaval due to the fluctuation of the religious beliefs of those who sit on the throne. The focus is placed more on the setting and political implications of the day and their bearing on the general populace than on the characters themselves with the protagonist’s story being secondary. For me, the tale was too gloomy to hold any real romantic quality, and in my opinion, this book tends more toward straight historical fiction.

As an avid fan of Eleanor Hibbert, I had expected to love The Miracle at St. Bruno’s as much as her others but was disappointed by the slow moving and somewhat predictable plot, lukewarm characters, and uninspired relationships. There were moments of promise at which I began to anticipate an exciting new twist that never developed into any fulfilling conclusion. The edition I received had a preview of the second novel in the series, The Lion Triumphant, and within the first few pages it promised much more romance than book one. Only then did I realize that the first was written as a foundation for succeeding volumes. I would recommend this book to hardcore Hibbert fans, readers who plan to take on the entire series, and those who find pleasure in historical fiction that does not depend upon a romantic relationship to drive it.

Ginger Myrick was born and raised in Southern California. She is a self-described wife, mother, animal lover, and avid reader. Along with the promotion for THE WELSH HEALER, and EL REY, she is currently crafting her third novel, which takes place during post-Civil War New York. She is a Christian who writes historical fiction with a ‘clean’ love story at the core.


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  1. What a treat to stumble upon this review! I haven’t thought about this book in, literally, decades. Along with The Lion Triumphant, may have been one of my most frequently re-read novels, when I was in high school. The moodiness of it captivated me, but I agree, it’s not as emotionally satisfying or romantic as the second and later books in the series. I’m happy to know that they are available now as e-books so new readers can discover them!

    • Hi, Pamela!
      I am a huge fan of Jean Plaidy and try to emulate her to a certain extent in my own writing. I am sure that if I had the time to tackle the whole series, I would come back to this one again and again. I probably would have given it a higher rating on my own personal scale just for the atmosphere and historical background, but I felt compelled to rate it according to the romance for this particular purpose! Thank you for taking the time to comment! 🙂

      • Yes, I agree, this one works less well as a romance – and thank you for your reply! I am motivated now to find a vintage copy of this, just to see how it has held up and if it casts the same spell. I have re-read several of Anya Seton’s best novels in the last several years, and was delighted to find I still found them magical.

      • I realize I meant to ask if you have read (and/or reviewed) any of Lynn Kurland’s books? I read many of her time travel medievals about 6 years ago, and they reminded me of some of these “vintage” authors like Jean Plaidy and Norah Lofts. But Kurland’s are definitely romance novels. Probably also have more humor than some of the earlier writers.

  2. Oh, now I know we are on the same wavelength, Pamela! Anya Seton is another of my influences, and my writing has actually been likened to hers by readers (which is a HUGE compliment!) In fact, my debut novel, El Rey, was inspired by Katherine. I have not read Lynn Kurland, although now I will have to check her out or suffer sleepless nights! If you are interested, I am currently participating in an online Historical Book Fair and running an excerpt from book #2, The Welsh Healer: A Novel of 15th Century England (please excuse the shameless plug, but really, what better time to do it!) I would love to hear what you think of the writing. Even if you don’t care for mine, there is a list of 50 other authors for you to sample. It might be worth your while to check it out at Regardless, it has been fabulous chatting with someone who speaks my language. Thank you for your interest!

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