The Phoenix Bride

Books on Tape. Mar. 2024. 10:18 hrs. ISBN 9780593668788. $88.50. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Siegel’s (Solomon’s Crown) sophomore novel brilliantly depicts 17th-century London in a surprisingly sweet and romantic story about forbidden love. Widow Cecilia Thorowgood, expertly voiced by Odyssey Award honoree Fiona Hardingham, is a broken and grieving woman forced to live with her sister in London. She has no will to live or thrive in the dirty city until she meets David Mendes, a Jewish physician who fled Portugal because of religious persecution. While David first meets Cecilia in his role as a physician, the two soon realize they have a deeper connection. Siegel adeptly navigates the complexities of a romantic relationship between an upper-middle-class English woman and a Jewish man in 1666. Narrator Matt Haynes pleasantly voices the chapters from David’s point-of-view with a slight accent, and readers will empathize with his melancholy about his father’s illness and his struggles with his bisexuality and grief. When the Great Fire of London sweeps through their neighborhoods, listeners will root for Cecilia and David and their precarious relationship.
VERDICT Brilliantly narrated by Hardingham and Haynes, this lush historical novel smoothly incorporates complicated topics into a quiet, hopeful tale.
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