3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Four Queens by Jane Fairley is a character-driven novel that follows the lives of four women inside an English castle. The narrative has themes of the paranormal, romance, and family drama. Through its pages, readers discover the characters untold secrets, fears, and witness some of their self-discoveries, fulfillments, and growth.
After a bad breakup, Morgan finds herself looking forward to her trip to England (a much-needed distraction) where she would get to stay in a medieval castle for three months. On the other side, Charlotte is keen on the art classes offered at the international study center in the castle. What’s more, the trip to England opens up doors for her to finally make peace with her past. Denise, on the other end, is focused and determined to give her first job after graduation her best efforts upon arrival. Vivian’s interest in pre-historic sites and medieval studies has her excited for the opportunity to work at the medieval castle. When the four women signed up for different programs in the castle, they had no idea the impact they would have on each other or how their individual and collective experiences in the castle would impact them and, for some of them, change the course of their lives.
One of the things that I enjoyed most about this novel is the detailed descriptions of the places. The author does an excellent job of painting vivid pictures of the castle grounds, different towns, and historical sites the women visited. I couldn’t help but feel as though I was there sharing the women’s sense of awe and wonderment of the majestic places visited.
Another element that I liked was that the narrative alternated its focus between the four main characters, giving us a glimpse of the characters personal worlds. I definitely appreciated the characters differences, as it made their interactions with each other more interesting to read. That being said, all their accounts were written in the third person, which, in my opinion, distanced the characters a bit. I felt as though there was a missed opportunity to give more voice to the characters (especially with the story alternating focus) and let their distinct personalities shine through.
An enjoyable element of the story was in peeling back the layers of the characters and realizing how wrong my initial assumptions were about them and certain aspects of their lives. The mystery element and paranormal aspects of the story kept me entertained and keen on turning pages.
The thing that I didn’t quite enjoy was getting the details of the characters mundane activities and reading basic conversations that seemed to take up space in the novel. What’s worse is that the narrative seemed to get repetitive at times, reiterating everything I already knew from reading the previous pages. I didn’t see the point of this and would highly recommend additional editing to weed out all forms of repetition. Additionally, I did encounter a number of errors throughout, such as missing commas, missing closing quotes, and missing words from sentences, etc. I should mention that the overuse of dialogue tags, even when it’s just two people in the conversation and obvious about whom is saying what, made for a monotonous reading experience.
I found the use of French interesting, as it did fit in with parts of the narrative. However, I felt that the meaning of some of the conversations wouldn’t be so obvious to those not familiar with the language. Thus, the author needs to look into making the novel accessible to all readers in that regard.
All in all, Four Queens was a worthwhile read with believable characters and a number of interesting plot twists. The novel would be most suitable for those who enjoy coming-of-age stories. Not so much for those who are looking for action and a fast-paced, plot-driven story. Usually, the number of issues encountered in this novel would have me rate the book below 3 stars. However, the women’s stories and revelations won me over, which is why I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars.
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon
Like ritah's review? Post a comment saying so!