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Medieval Rape, another take

I'm now at day eight post-mastectomy. Each day I feel a little better. I'm slightly apprehensive about tomorrow as that's when I'll find out just how bad (or not bad) the cancer part is. I feel like I'm not beating the odds at all. It went from "pre-cancerous" to "usually benign" to "oh my god you have something rare!" to "DCIS." This last bit was told to me by the surgeon just before the surgery. Ductal carcinoma in situ is a regular kind of breast cancer. I guess there's still the chance that it remained in the ducts, in which case they may have gotten it all out during the surgery. He says he took some extra lymph nodes to be sure. This is why I can't lift my arm. Heh.

To pass the time while I'm sitting around doing nothing I am reading. A few weeks ago, during a trip to Office Depot, I picked up a book called The Valcourt Heiress by Catherine Coulter on the discount book shelf. It's a medieval romance, just my cup of tea, and I'm familiar with the author. The book turned out to be fairly entertaining. Throughout most of it I kind of scratched my head and thought, "Is this accurate?" I'm not an expert on medieval times, but I know enough to wonder. For me, as a reader, I don't get all bent out of shape when things are not accurate to a "t"...but I do notice.

In any case, toward the end of the book a few names were mentioned that were familiar. Not historical names, just names that I knew I'd read about before. After some research I discovered that this book is book eight in Coulter's "Song Series." The names mentioned are from books one and two, so I have a suspicion that I read at least book two during the early 80s when it was released. Unable to face the garage in my weakened state, I decided to purchase book one for my Kindle. Yesterday I settled in to read.

Wow.

Right away, chapter two, there is a rape scene. While not overly graphic, it's descriptive enough to give you a sense of the agony. In a nutshell, a bad man came to a remote Welsh holding while the lord of the manor was out. He encountered the lord's bastard daughter, and announced he was there to marry her. He wanted her to admit where her mother and brother, the lord's heir, were hiding. She would not, so the bad man announced he would rape her lady-in-waiting to gain the information. And, he indeed did rape her, in front of the bastard daughter and the men at arms.

Okay. I'll admit right now that this rape was quite startling to me. Me! The one who used rape as a plot point in my medieval novels. Me, who didn't understand the outrage some people felt at my use of rape in my medieval novels. Me! The one who keeps harping on the fact that medieval times were different than modern times, and rape must be viewed differently in medieval novels.

The bottom line is that the rape in Warrior's Song is perplexing. I'm not entirely sure what purpose it served. The bad man claimed he would rape the lady-in-waiting because he wanted to know the location of the heir. The lady was loyal to a fault, and even though she was forced to strip and receive the bad man, she was still a virgin so her back "arched with the pain," she did not give up the heir. So there they were, bastard daughter in such a state of shock she vomits on the floor, lady-in-waiting, deflowered and shamed, and the bad man still without the heir, and seemingly no pleasure from the rape. What was the point?

I'm still not sure if I've ever read this book before, and I won't know until I can force my way into the garage to find my box of books. If I did, I bet I wasn't as appalled the first time as I am this time, but my memory gets hazy about these books.

After a few chapters I decided to go look at Amazon reviews. Sure enough, the overall rating for the book is about 3 stars, maybe a little more. It has a slew of 1 star ratings, all of them focusing on this rape, and how they were not able to even finish the book because of it. So again, this is where I differ from other people. Although I admit, the rape was troublesome for me on this reading, I would not rate the book 1 star. At this point, maybe 3 stars. Catherine Coulter is a "New York Times Bestselling Author" so I'm sure she doesn't give a rat's ass for these one star reviews. I don't think they're warranted. Yes, it's a shocking thing to read, but overall the rest of the book is well-written. I guess this will forever be something that sets me apart from other reviewers.

Put it this way. I love to eat, and I love to try new restaurants. Let's say I go to a restaurant and order something new, and let's say I end up not liking it. In all other aspects, the decor, the atmosphere, the service, the restaurant is stellar. I just don't happen to like what I ordered. I can't give the entire restaurant a bad review, because this is my personal taste.

On the other hand, I know there are people in the world who love to give bad reviews, and nothing will ever stop them.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
chrysalis_1975
Jul. 25th, 2013 08:47 pm (UTC)
there are so many people who just love to rain on others, to the point of drowning out the person's voice, words, even humanity. . . I hope I can spot those type of people more and more the older I get. I pray I'm not one of them.

I'd be tempted to give this book by Catherine Coulter a 3 Star rating, not necessarily because of the rape itself, but what part it played in the rhythm of the story, and the MC(s) response(s) and how their lives & decisions played out afterwards. I guess it depends on the author too. . . there are some author's works who I will read, even though I do not generally read books with rape or child molestation scenes (too close to home), and their book *may* contain those issues in there. If it's a new author to me, I'll generally avoid it, even if there are *rave reviews* because others' tastes aren't like mine.

I'm still praying for you!! SO HAPPY you came through surgery OK :)

*GENTLE HUGS*
rowenasudbury
Jul. 25th, 2013 10:11 pm (UTC)
*hugs* Doing great so far. Tomorrow is the big day, hopefully, where we get results, etc.

I'm not done with the book yet, but it's my belief that the rape was an isolated thing, and is not going to affect anything else that happens. I seem to recall the mc that performed the rape with kind memories (from my first reading 30 years ago)...but I'm still not sure if I read this book, or the one that follows it. The 2nd book is the one that focuses on him.

But yes, I couldn't give the book 5 stars because this scene did detract from the story for me. I can't, however, only give it 1 star, because I can't pin my entire enjoyment or non-enjoyment of the book on that one thing. If it bothered me enough I'd stop reading, and I'm the kind of person that if I don't finish, I won't rate it.

I guess my point is, The King's Tale got a lot of 1 star reviews because I portrayed a rape in it, and it still irks me that people throw the entire book over into 1 star range because of that. Or because there's het sex in it. Or whatever. It's still a well written book. Not that I'm biased or anything ;)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )