Monday, November 17, 2008

Truly - Mary Balogh

When they were children, Geraint Penderyn and Marged Evans were close friends. But years have passed since then. Geraint is now the Earl of Wyvern and Marged hates him more than any other man on earth. She blames him for her husband's death, and both she and all the other inhabitants of the Welsh village where she lives blame him for oppressing his people. Geraint has to devise some scheme to convince his people that really he is on their side. A masked savior, a man dressed as a woman named Rebecca, rides out at night to lead his people in rebellion against the toll gates that are destroying them all. He is a daring and commanding figure, and Marged is soon deeply involved with him, though she has never seen his face. Beneath the disguise he is, of course, her friend-turned-foe, Geraint.

I started Truly with absolutely no expectations at all. I had been talking with some friends about how much I enjoy Balogh's books and that made me want to start one. I went to the shelves and there I found this one. I had no idea what it was about and I was completely surprised when I started reading it. First because the heroine is very bitter, she resents the hero. Secondly because there's a lot of social history depicted here. I know, now, that Balogh has more such books, dealing with welsh history, out there and I'm on the hunt for them.

Feeling that Marged and all his former friends think him responsible for the situation they live in Geraint, a wealthy landowner, feels at first a bit confused as he hasn't been in the country for some years. He is the son of an Earl's son and a vicar's daughter and while a child he lived in the village and was treated as an outcast. Later his grandfather recognised him as the heir and he never had anything more to do with his mother and his former life. He felt so miserable that after inheriting the title he never went back to the village and the girl he was falling in love with before clumsily ruining everything. Till now...

Despite not being directly responsible Geraint feels he should address the problem as it was his steward who has been raising rents and evicting those who can't pay. Unable to change as much as he wants to and seeing that his offers to the villagers are returned he devises a plan to become a Rebecca. The Rebecca and her daughter's were a group of masked men who destroyed the gates so the toll wouldn't have to be paid. Geraint starts a double life being Rebecca by night and himself during the day. Marged naturally feels very attracted to the man she feels he is a sort of hero, who fights for the poor people's rights and has an uncommon respect for human life.

One does have to suspend one's disbelief on how Marged never recognised Geraint in situations where she clearly should but I was so interested in the story that I was willing to put this aside and just keep reading. Besides the love story it's very interesting how Balogh portrays the difference in social classes and how the common people lived and laboured.

Grade: B+

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