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.
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.