The Silvered Heart

Written by Katherine Clements
Review by Lisa Redmond

The Silvered Heart is Katherine Clements’ follow-up to her critically lauded debut, The Crimson Ribbon. With this new story she returns to the Civil War era, using a real person as a springboard for her storytelling. This is the fictionalised account of Lady Katherine Ferrers, a 17th-century heiress and legendary highwaywoman who lost her land during Cromwell’s rule and was rumoured to have become a highwaywoman in order to survive. Clements makes the legend her own, bringing the “wicked lady” of folktale to vivid life as a real and sympathetic character as we follow her from childhood, with her mother’s untimely demise, to her own very young and unhappy marriage, and finally to finding friendship, love, and happiness.

The research is impeccable and the storytelling first-rate. You feel the hunger of Lady Katherine and her faithful retainers through the lean years and smell the dirt and filth of the age. The book brilliantly highlights the dangerous times in which she lived, when even a king could be put on trial, as we watch the political fortunes of those around her shift with the wind and her husband’s often feeble attempts to switch allegiance and save his neck. There is a wonderful portrayal of the friendship between Lady Katherine and her lady’s maid, Rachel, and the close bonds that can be formed between women while their destinies are decided by the men around them. This is powerful historical fiction at its best.