Original date of publication: 1974
My edition: 2010 (Sourcebooks)
Why I decided to read: publicist sent me a copy for review
How I acquired my copy: same, April 2010
Having read Jerusalem, I was eager to read Great Maria, a novel set in Sicily in the middle ages. Maria is the daughter of a robber baron, compelled to marry Richard, brother of Roger, the man she really loves.
I wanted to like this book, I really did, but the author’s writing style kept bogging me down. She writes in short choppy sentences that are hard to follow at times, and I found myself skipping and skimming in many places. Maybe it’s me, but I thought that the writing style of this book was a lot different from that which Holland used in Jerusalem—it may be intentional I don’t know. Holland describes everything in minute detail, sometimes to the detriment of the story. It’s a pity, because the details of Maria’s life are interesting in places and give the reader a generally good feel for the life of an average woman in the middle ages. At the same time, though, the author doesn’t do a very good job of describing her location: her novel could be taking place anywhere. It’s kind of like not seeing the forest for the trees, in a way.
Maria is a believable heroine for the time period, but the author’s detached attitude to her heroine never really made me feel close to her. I loved the premise of the book, but the execution of the book left me wanting more. It’s a pity, because I’ve enjoyed Holland’s writing in the past.