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.
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.