There has to be trust in a marriage. A marriage cannot afford to have doubt, jealousy, and lies. A marriage cannot dwell on the past. Most importantly, a marriage cannot be pushed aside to praise and worship the Queen of England. In "A Constant Heart" by Siri Mitchell, the marriage of two courtiers at the court of Queen Elizabeth I is tested.
"A Constant Heart" follows the marriage of The Earl of Lytham and Marget Barnardsen. The Earl of Lytham is a courtier at the court of Queen Elizabeth I of England. He was previously married and has little faith in marriage. He also is desperate to please and gain favor with Queen Elizabeth. Marget is the beautiful daughter of a knight who is given in marriage to the Earl of Lytham for her small fortune. The marriage starts out as a disaster. The Earl has a very low opinion of marriage because of his first marriage and Marget is a fish out of water at the English court, is disliked by Queen Elizabeth, and also has to deal with her husband's lack of trust in her. A busybody lady of the court teaches Marget how to thrive at court and Marget slowly, but surely begins to shine in her husband's eyes and they finally develop a true relationship and marriage. Sadly, the pressures of the court, lies, secrets, and disappointment threaten to ruin their happiness. "A Constant Heart" is the story of how a marriage is tested, especially in the court of Queen Elizabeth I.
"A Constant Heart" has potential, but falls flat. The point of view of The Earl of Lytham and Marget changes throughout the book and you are never quite sure who is being focused on. It makes for a confusing read. The characters also fall flat. The Earl is completely unlikable, mopey, and whiny. Marget is not particularly interesting other than her beauty, so you can understand why Queen Elizabeth fails to be captivated by her. The couple also have no chemistry or spark.
The novel also fails in making you feel as if you are at the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Other than the description of women using face paints and dying their hair red to replicate their queen, you wouldn't even feel like you are reading a book set at the court of Queen Elizabeth. There is no real mention of the politics of the time period, basic history facts are incorrect (King Henry VIII did not have seven wives!), and Queen Elizabeth comes off as a particularly awful person.
"A Constant Heart" is a disappointment. Previously, Mitchell has written some great books with strong characters, provided such attention and detail to the setting, and created a wonderful story, but this one does not work at all. Perhaps Mitchell was not made for the Elizabethan period?
To purchase "A Constant Heart": http://www.amazon.com/Constant-Heart-A-Siri-Mitchell/dp/0764204319
For more information on Siri Mitchell: http://sirimitchell.com/