Read the sworn virgin by Kristopher Dukes Online


What would you do if your father was suddenly and mysteriously murdered, leaving you alone in 1910s Albania?When 18-year-old Diana’s father is mysteriously shot dead in the cobblestone streets of 1910s Albania, Diana must abandon her dream of studying art in Italy as she struggles to survive in a remote mountain village with her stepmother Mirlinda. Nearing starvation, MirWhat would you do if your father was suddenly and mysteriously murdered, leaving you alone in 1910s Albania?When 18-year-old Diana’s father is mysteriously shot dead in the cobblestone streets of 1910s Albania, Diana must abandon her dream of studying art in Italy as she struggles to survive in a remote mountain village with her stepmother Mirlinda. Nearing starvation, Mirlinda secretly sells Diana into marriage with Edi, the cruel heir of a powerful clan. Rather than lose her freedom, Diana swears to remain a virgin for the rest of her life, a tradition that gives her the right to live as a man: she is now head of her household, can work for a living and carry a gun. She may participate in the vengeful blood feuds that consume the mountain tribes, but she may not be killed—unless she forsakes her vow. When an ill stranger stumbles into her life, she nurses him back to health, saving his life but risking her own when she falls in love with him. . ....

Title : the sworn virgin
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 33780185
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 352 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

the sworn virgin Reviews

  • Michael
    2019-04-18 13:44

    Impressively researched and deftly plotted. One of the pleasures of historical fiction is learning about a new time and place, and here we’re transported to 1910 Albania, where gender roles are rigid and society is ruled by convention. Eleanora, our main character, rebels against gender conventions in a fascinating way, by becoming what’s known as a “sworn virgin,” meaning she’s suddenly treated like a man. One of the difficulties of writing about a place that’s so conventional is how to break free from convention in the narrative itself. For example, dialog in this part of the world is often highly scripted, meaning some of the characters can sound stilted and wooden when they speak. But I soon realized that this was part of the convention that Eleanora herself was rebelling against. The ending (which I won’t give away) also skirts close to convention in a different way before rejecting it in favor of a more ambiguous conclusion, which I found more in keeping with the novel’s overall theme of struggling against convention—a theme that’s explored in many interesting ways in this worthy first novel.Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

  • Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine)
    2019-03-28 12:07

    You can read all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.As a avid reader of historical fiction, I was first attracted to The Sworn Virgin because it introduced me to a subject I knew nothing about – the sworn virgins of Albania. While I’ve read many novels with strong female characters that dared to reject their traditional societal roles, I had never read one set in Albania so that was also a big draw.When I began the book and learned that Eleanora and her father, Fran, traveled together as healers, the nurse in me became even more excited. If only Eleanora could’ve had more time with her beloved Baba! I would have loved to hear more of their voyages to heal the sick and injured. Sadly, this was not to be as Baba was killed in a blood feud early on, leaving Eleonora alone to make the journey home to deliver the sad news to her stepmother, Meria.I admittedly had some difficulty with Meria’s character. Though I could empathize with her on some levels, I was angry that she would force Eleanora into marriage with a cruel man; especially knowing how much her husband had wanted his daughter to be happy and independent. I felt that it was something of a betrayal of his memory and struggled to accept that it was simply the way of the times.When, having almost no options, Eleanora takes the oath of a sworn virgin, I felt very conflicted. After all, one has only to read the blurb to understand that this may not end well…I thought the pacing of this book was slow but steady for the first half. It gradually picked up. Then, with a couple of twists, the last hundred pages flew by. The ending was something of a surprise and the perfect set-up for a sequel.Though it is very clear that the author did a tremendous amount of research on the subject of sworn virgins, Eleanor’s time as a sworn virgin was shorter than I had anticipated. I selfishly would have liked her to have had more time as a sworn virgin, if only so that I could’ve learned more about what her day-to-day life may have been like.Had the date of this story, 1910, not been disclosed at the beginning of this book, I would never have guessed the century in which these events had taken place. It was difficult for me to grasp that these events could have happened in what is the relatively recent past. I felt compelled to learn more about the sworn virgins and was surprised to see the amount of information and recent articles on the sworn virgins of Albania. (Please check out my blog post for links to some interesting stories and videos I found!)Whether or not it is a sequel to The Sworn Virgin, I look forward to reading Kristopher Dukes’s next novel.3.5/5 starsThanks to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  • TL
    2019-04-22 17:41

    A mostly well done story on a tradition I had no clue existed (and sounded really interesting). So when I had the money to get this I pounced, and started reading it the day it came in.Pros:The story kept my attention and I zipped through it pretty quickly.Loved the settingLoved that Eleanora was an artistLiked how the story ended.Cons:I was pissed at the way Eleanora treated Meria... I don't blame her for being angry (I probably would be too... Meria had the best intentions, misguided or not.. she wanted them both to be safe) and yes, she is grieving her father but she was being too cruel to her at times I thought. I wanted to shove her off a cliff and spirit Meria away.The writing was pretty good but sometimes felt wooden and stiff.Numerous references made to Eleanora being strong like her father but it isn't seen much... more telling than showing at times. Most of the time I found her to be selfish and dreamy (Being a dreamer isn't all bad but in her case it came off as lazy, other than her art).The "romance"/attraction annoyed me pretty much right away.Another Pro and Con: I guessed the twist with our traveling guide but the reveal was still cleverly done.~~~~All in all, not a bad read but was underwhelmed over all... maybe my expectations were too high *shrugs*

  • Jane
    2019-04-12 19:48

    Interesting book on the harsh Law [Kanun of Lekë] of the mountain tribes of Albania, from a woman's viewpoint. I had already read Broken April by Ismail Kadare and wanted to compare how the two different genders might have lived under these brutal rules of blood feud and [in this novel] the "correct" deportment of a woman--subservient and second-class. Set in 1910, a feisty girl, Eleanora, a talented artist, and possessed of an independent spirit, dreams of breaking away from this stifling atmosphere to study art in Italy, spurred on by her father's encouragement. She's also an apprentice to her father, a healer and often accompanies him on his missions of mercy. Her father is shot point-blank on a city street. Since she and her stepmother, Meria, are now left alone with no male in the house as protection or provider, Meria tries to sell Eleanora as bride to a cruel man, Edi for money and food. When he comes for her, she declares herself a "sworn virgin", now entitled to wear men's clothing, and to become in effect a man, with all the advantages that status gives her, including carrying and using a rifle. When she discovers Kol is the killer she goes to his house to find out why her father had been downed in cold blood. By accident, she shoots him. While fleeing the house house, remorseful for what has happened, she is nearly caught by someone. While out one day, she discovers a wounded man, Cheremi, brings him to her home and nurses him back to health. But now she's torn between keeping her vow of virginity and her burgeoning love for him, which is reciprocated. Then the story degenerates into a romance between the two, and from there, it hurtles to its shattering conclusion. I liked learning about these Albanian customs; I thought the sworn virgin concept so outlandish I thought the author had created it out of her imagination until I read elsewhere to this day there are still some older women in the Albanian mountains who are of that status. The novel was a fast read and kept my interest until the banal romance eroded it.I thank LibraryThing for sending me an ARC in return for my honest review.

  • Sara Sturdivant
    2019-04-04 11:57

    The main character Diana is one of the most relatable characters I have had the chance to read in a stoking. Her perseverance for equality and opportunity for women independence is relentless. In the beginning I was a little confused by the story development of Diana because it was a little unclear but once you get past the fifth chapter everything begins to tie together. At least it did for me. Overall a well written story and I would highly recommend it to all my friends especially those who are untested in culture and gender studies.

  • Matt Jacobson
    2019-04-26 14:48

    An incredible story of a woman's strength. The world in which Eleanora struggles sounds to strange to be true, but little details like her not knowing what a fork was, widespread illiteracy, and the rustic architecture and decoration of the homes the characters live in brings this story to life. It's always fun to read and learn about an otherwise unknown place. Along with learning about life in the remote mountains of Albania, the dramatic story shines through, and I am still wondering where the characters are after the book ended.Rich in detail about 1910 Albania, with a dramatic love story, this reminded me of Memoirs of a Geisha.

  • Rosemarie Jacobson
    2019-03-27 18:02

    A powerful story asking what it means to be a woman and about what it means to be a woman.Eleanora is like Scarlett O'Hara - you may not alway like her or what she does, but you will respect her strength!I found the setting fascinating - I have never read anything about Albania before, let alone the remote mountains. The story ends on a cliff hanger - hoping the author writes the sequel, and soon!

  • Christine C.
    2019-03-26 16:01

    I am a fan of fictional stories with strong female characters, and this one is exceptionally well written. The story was so riveting that I couldn't put the book down once I started to read it. I was very inspired by the strength and courage that Eleanora had. I look forward to reading Ms. Duke's next book.

  • Lollita
    2019-04-13 13:59

    This book sounded promising and interesting, but I hated every character and it was super boring. Diana was one of the most whiny annoying characters ever,and her step mother was just stupid. The big twist was incredibly predictable, and kind of gross haha.

  • Marlene Rogliano
    2019-03-29 14:04

    The Sworn Virgin is beautifully written and leaves you wanting more. I enjoyed Diana's complexities and the interesting Albanian facts which I was unaware of such traditions. The ending was a surprise and I'm looking forward for more of Dukes novels! Hopefully a sequel!!

  • Meg - A Bookish Affair
    2019-04-23 20:08

    "The Sworn Virgin" is the story of Eleanora, a woman who chooses to live as a "sworn virgin," a tradition that will allow her to basically be the master of her own destiny and be in control of her own life as long as she keeps to her promise. But promises are hard to keep and love may find her whether she wants it to or not.I was very interested in the custom of "sworn virgins" in Albania. It is a concept that I had never heard of before. It's so interesting to me to learn about new customs like this through books. "Sworn Virgins" could carry guns (something that gets our heroine into a lot of trouble in the book). They could wear men's clothing and could work the way that men are allowed to. I really liked all of the detail that the author packed into this book about the custom.While the story and historical context was interesting, the writing felt a little stiff in some places. There would be passages that would flow very nicely and then others that seemed to get mired into telling rather than showing. Eleanora is a strong character and I liked that but a lot of her strength is explained rather than shown, which did take me out of the book a little.Overall, this was a fascinating subject that I would love to read more about!

  • Marisa
    2019-04-22 18:00

    This was a very intriguing book in that I’m not sure that it was like anything else I have read. That being said, I found it very difficult to relate to Eleanora and was frustrated by her decisions to be extremely selfish at times. It was tough, because Eleanora was trying to be an independent and strong woman, but really tripped up multiple times throughout the book. She is quite young, and does manage to grow throughout the story. I was expecting the book to go in a different direction based on the description, but instead we follow Eleanora over two years in her life and she is forced to decide if she'll reject or embrace her cultural heritage.What I did enjoy about the book was the imagery and exploration of a culture and geography that I know nothing about. In 1910, it’s interesting to hear how Albania balanced the old and new ways of life, like so many other countries at the turn of the century. Warning: Contains repeated violence and sexual content.Who should read it? Anyone interested in historical novels.See all my reviews and more at or @Read2Distract

  • El
    2019-04-22 17:05

    Full review here. I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.Eleanora is an 18-year-old woman, precocious as all hell, who lives with her father and her step-mother in Albania in the early 20th century. Eleanora's dream is to study art in Italy, a dream that was not commonly held by young women in her mountain village in 1910. Her step-mother has very specific wishes for Eleanora, which involve getting married as a good young woman ought to do, though her father wants her to pursue her dreams and works exceptionally hard to help her on her path to studying in Italy.When Eleanora's father is murdered, her life is turned upside down, and she and her step-mother must find a way to survive in a world that does not encourage women to live alone. Her step-mother takes steps to marry Eleanora off, but Eleanora takes matters in her own hands by taking an oath to be a sworn virgin. This would allow her to live life as a man, making household decisions, having a job, participating in any activity allowed to a man - though she must remain a virgin and, luckily, cannot be killed the same way a man could be killed.As one might imagine, the story gets complicated when Eleanora meets someone who strikes her fancy, and she must hide her feelings.I was on board with this novel from the beginning, but my interest started to lag once I realized that Eleanora's dream to study art in Italy was taking a back burner to everything else. I can appreciate that she was a strong-willed character who had to take over her father's role, but then the love interest goes against everything I was hoping to encounter in this character. Unfortunately it took on a bit more of a romantic turn than I was hoping from what seemed to be a strong female character above all the usual trappings. This is a personal thing - I'm not a fan of anyone giving up their dreams just because they have a boner for someone else.Still, for a first novel, this is written well and I found Eleanora refreshing as a bad-ass character (at least in the first half of the book). I don't know anything about Albania in 1910, or the mountain village traditions, but Dukes managed to make me feel like I did know something about it. I feel she did her research and it made the time and place come alive for me. For a debut novel, I'm impressed and look forward to seeing what else this author writes, though, again, on a personal front I would prefer a bit less of the lovey-dovey stuff. Man, I must be getting hard in my old age.

  • Janie Carroll
    2019-04-12 17:47

    A lover of historical fiction, this is the first for me....Albania. Tradition and laws of the land for this country are shocking to us in the 21st century but fascinating nevertheless. Eleanora's is a strong and resilient woman who perseveres through many adversities. I love this character for always believing in herself and knowing in her heart what she has to do to survive. Ms Dukes has created a well written novel and I see a definite future for this author. I'm very much hoping this will a series and there will be other books by Kristopher Dukes.

  • Sara
    2019-04-14 11:41

    I really adored this book.I firstly want to thank Kristopher Dukes for providing me with a copy of her book (yes, HER. Such a badass name for a badass woman.) I secondly want to gush about how much I loved this story and how much I loved Eleanora. Let me start by saying that I knew absolutely nothing at all about Albania in the early 20th century. What a cool setting for a book. So original. I knew nothing of the mountain village cultures and the roles that males and females played in society. Feuds between families is a major theme in this novel and it affects all the characters, both the good ones and the bad ones. Blood feuds rip apart families until there aren't any left, a really dreadful but intensely fascinating Albanian custom. Eleanora, to avoid an arranged marriage to a terrible man, declares herself a sworn virgin so that she can, in all intents and purposes, become a man. If not in body, in tradition. Once a sworn virgin, she is literally sworn to virginity, but she is granted the rights that an Albanian man would be. She needs no man's permission for anything she does, and if that doesn't just fit Eleanora to the T. Eleanora is totally headstrong, independent and brave. Yet she is still just a girl. She is scared, she is filled with the need to be cared for and looked after, and I think she struggles with this dichotomy. To be seen as an independent man, strong and grown up, yet really, she is just a child. She isn't totally ready for the life that was handed to her in an instant. A mere string of sentences in a moment of danger changed her life forever. I learned so much about these very specific Albanian traditions and customs that I had never even known existed. This was a legitimate page-turner, and I hated to put it down when I had to get off the train to go to work. I believe there is more of Eleanora's story in the works, and I cannot wait for when I can continue her journey with her! I can't wait to see what that little girl with the huge heart and rip-roaring independence will do next.

  • Apex Reviews
    2019-04-12 16:45

    When many think of stories involving blood debts, endless family feuding, and revenge, they often envision a strong male protagonist at the center of it all who eventually comes out as victorious by the end of the tale. But in Kristopher Dukes’ novel, A Sworn Virgin: Broken Promises, the game is changed when a woman, leading not only as the main character in the story, but in her life as well, is forced into facing (and surviving) this type of world on her own. Dukes’ novel takes place in 1910s Albania, where we’re introduced to the small mountain hometown of the female protagonist, Diana, her father, Frenk, and her stepmother, Mirlinda. Immediately, there is obvious tension between Diana and her stepmother, due to Diana’s non-typical womanly behavior and mannerisms, which are thought to make her “useless” as a potential wife. The only reason Diana gets away with her behavior is due to her father’s encouragement of pursuing her artistic talents, but after his sudden death, Diana becomes lost and struggles to come to terms with the reality of it. When her stepmother tries to sell her off to a neighboring family’s abusive son for survival, Diana, as a quick escape route, declares the vow of a “sworn virgin”, giving her the power and rights to live on her own like a man. Through her struggles of taking on the responsibilities of her vow, dealing with her father’s death, and seeking revenge, Diana uncovers truths about her present, her past, and herself. The story focuses much on the importance of having a choice. From the beginning, Diana sees herself as equal to men in nature, and her intellect saves her from both a bad marriage and being complacent in the choices others try to make for her. She knows she will not be content unless she pursues her art and leaves her hometown for more, and she refuses to marry for anything less than love. Even when Diana chooses to become a sworn virgin, a lifestyle fated for loneliness and survival, she still finds contentment in her decision for some time because it fostered favorable results when she needed it. No matter how her circumstances change, she can't seem to escape the need to go after what she wants, which is relatable to all readers in the struggle to choose their own paths. A Sworn Virgin: Broken Promises is must-read for lovers of historical fiction, unexpected plot twists, and relatable female heroines. If readers can accept Diana as her imperfect self, who is often prone to somewhat strange behaviors and mood swings, they'll come to appreciate the well written story, interesting characters, and doubtless proof of how resilient women can be in the face of nearly anything. India BarnettApex Reviews

  • April Paz
    2019-04-17 12:08

    From start to end this book caught my attention, all the details really transported me and helped me visualize all of the surroudings.I've found it to be incredibly interesting since it details so much of Albania's history and culture back then and the amount of action and drama in it. Being from a Latinamerican background I could relate to Eleonora's fight for her independence. Her determination is inspiring too.It left me wanting for more...

  • Phyllis
    2019-03-26 19:02

    When Eleanora’s father is killed and her stepmother secretly arranges for Eleanora to marry a cruel man, she takes advantage of an unusual way to avoid it. Eleanora takes the sworn virgin oath; she takes an oath to remain a virgin for the rest of her life. In this way, she has the right to live as a man; she becomes the head of her household, can work for a living, can carry a gun. She can participate in the blood feuds of the mountain tribes of Albania and she may not be killed unless she forsakes her vows. She has control of her future until she meets an injured stranger, falls in love and risks her life. Sworn Virgin is an intriguing story based on real oaths and life in Albania’s mountains in the early 1900s. The characters and descriptions are well developed; it is a story that kept my interest until the end. I enjoyed learning about the sworn virgin oath and about Albania’s tribal life. I received an arc of the book from Goodreads.Merged review:When Eleanora’s father is killed and her stepmother secretly arranges for Eleanora to marry a cruel man, she takes advantage of an unusual way to avoid it. Eleanora takes the sworn virgin oath; she takes an oath to remain a virgin for the rest of her life. In this way, she has the right to live as a man; she becomes the head of her household, can work for a living, can carry a gun. She can participate in the blood feuds of the mountain tribes of Albania and she may not be killed unless she forsakes her vows. She has control of her future until she meets an injured stranger, falls in love and risks her life. Sworn Virgin is an intriguing story based on real oaths and life in Albania’s mountains in the early 1900s. The characters and descriptions are well developed; it is a story that kept my interest until the end. I enjoyed learning about the sworn virgin oath and about Albania’s tribal life. I received an arc of the book from Goodreads.

  • Tony Parsons
    2019-04-14 19:03

    1910, Albania. Fast forward; Diana’s (18) father Frenk (Dr., Baba) had been shot/killed. She had planned on being an artist in Italy. Mirlinda (Diana’s stepmother, nee Aganis) was devastated also. Diana had inherited his fancy rifle. The Thethi tribe & the Gjojika tribe were in a blood feud.Diana needed to sell some bracelets, so she/Mirlinda could survive.Diana would also like to pretend to be a man so she can acquire the privileges of that gender.Diana (aka mountain fairy) confronted Martin (Andri’s brother) how did that turn out?How would Andri (artist) & Diana relationship turn out? Warning: This book contains extreme violence, graphic adult content or expletive language &/or sexually explicit content which is only suitable for mature readers. It may be offensive to some readers. I did not receive any type of compensation for reading & reviewing this book. While I receive free books from publishers & authors, I am under no obligation to write a positive review. Only an honest one. A very awesome book cover, great font & writing style. A very well written book. It was very easy for me to read/follow from start/finish & never a dull moment. There were no grammar/typo errors, nor any repetitive or out of line sequence sentences. Lots of exciting scenarios, with several twists/turns & a great set of unique characters to keep track of. This could also make another great movie, or mini TV series. To be continued? There is no doubt in my mind this is a very easy rating of 5 stars. Thank you for the free Story Cartel; PDF book Tony Parsons MSW (Washburn)

  • latybug
    2019-04-05 17:10

    I received a free download of this book from Story Cartel, thank you!This book was a pretty good read for me. I didn't like the very end, as I didn't want the story to end that way. I generally like strong female lead characters, but I found myself not really liking Diana very much by the end. It was interesting to read about the customs of that time and culture. I think Diana's story would be much different if the story were set in this day and age.I would recommend this book to others and I would read more by this author.

  • kim
    2019-04-01 19:52

    This one is a hard one for me to rate, because I liked it a lot….right up until it ended! The ending alone is enough for me to recommend it to book clubs….just so I have someone to discuss it with!Other than the ending, I really enjoyed the story. It was interesting to read about the tradition of the ‘sworn virgin’ being given the rights of a man. This reminded me a lot of the bacha posh of Afghanistan, which I read about in The Underground Girls of Kabul and The Pearl That Broke Its Shell. The descriptions of the mountain country and the markets in Albania pulled me right into the story. To be honest, had I not been told at the beginning that the story was set in 1910, I would have easily have believed that this took place a few hundred years ago!Eleanora is a complicated young woman — spoiled and self-centered — who gets herself into a lot of trouble by thinking about she wants and going after it impulsively, without ever considering the consequences of her actions or how they may affect others. Without giving any spoilers, I can tell you that almost everything Eleanora does is done impulsively and without a lot of thought; she is thrust into circumstances and just reacts. She never seems fully invested in her status as a sworn virgin, which is probably good, because it doesn’t last very long. You can probably tell that I didn’t like the character of Eleanora very much. Other than the ending, my major quibble with the book is the synopsis. The synopsis led me to believe that Eleanora’s father was killed and she became a sworn virgin almost immediately at the beginning of the book, and that she spent some time in this role before she stumbled upon the injured stranger. The truth is that I was almost halfway through the book before Eleanora made her vow and then very little time passed before she broke it. I was a little disappointed not to have learned more about the life of a woman as a sworn virgin. And as I mentioned, I was very disappointed in Eleanora at the end of the book. However, I did enjoy the book and think it will make a good selection for book clubs!You can visit thepublisher’s website to read an excerpt or listen to a sample.You can see an interview with the authorhere.You can read an article about sworn virgins living in current day Albaniahere.I won a copy of this book through the Library Thing Early Reviewers program.My rating: ☆☆☆½

  • Thomas Farber
    2019-04-19 17:01

    A pretty complicated father/daughter dynamic, essential family stories never told, absent mother, (sometimes wicked) stepmother, lover who was almost her mother's lover and who in the end will...just not suffice.Wow! And a feminist fable, too. 'Mazin!Meanwhile, for sure, we will want to see what Eleanora can do, will do, in this new world she's dreaming of.

  • Natalie
    2019-04-26 16:10

    I'm a huge fan of historical fiction. I had no idea this tradition existed in Albania where women can take a vow of chastity and wear men's clothing in order to live life as a man and have their own rights. I loved how strong Eleanora is -- a perfect heroine that's strong as well as strong-willed. The imagery and descriptions by Dukes was so vivid I really loved escaping away into another world.

  • Bobbi
    2019-03-28 15:58

    This novel began with such promise! The author did extensive research into a little-known tradition in the mountains of Albania in which a woman could become a "sworn virgin," taking a vow of chastity which granted her (for life) the rights of a man, as long as she did not break her vow.I imagined that Eleanora would become a strong leader, campaigning for rights for all women, not only sworn virgins, but the author chose another path.The story begins in 1910 Albania, when Eleanora's father is killed and Eleanora's dream of studying art in Italy dies with him. She is eighteen, and her stepmother arranges a marriage for her but when the man and his brothers come to claim Eleanora, she raises her right hand and takes the vow. She is strong and determined to avenge the death of her father.And then she meets an injured man, takes him home to treat him, and the tale weakens into a love story. Oh, there's a plot twist at the end that some could consider redeeming, but I feel the latter portion of the book seriously eroded the potential of what could have been an awesome novel.I received an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. My thanks to the author, Harper Collins, Amelia Wood, and Molly Waxman. The book was released on August 8, 2017.

  • Marichus Real
    2019-03-31 19:44

    I was given a gifted copy by Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.When Diana’s father is killed due to a blood feud, her stepmother sold her to Edi to be his wife. She detests him because he is a brute and in order to get free from him, she becomes a sworn virgin.A very interesting novel which takes us to Albania and tells us about one of the strangest traditions in Europe: sworn virgin. This consisted of swearing a life of chastity, wearing man’s clothes and behaving like a man. The only way to be free in a society dominated by men was to become a sworn virgin. When a woman had to get married by her father’s decision, declaring herself a sworn virgin, she could escape from the unwanted marriage. Another way to become a sworn virgin was through blood feuds. It’s the “eye for an eye” law. When the man of one family was shot due to a blood feud and there were not any other male member of the family, the daughter became a sworn virgin so to be able to behave like a man and trade or hunt to survive.Although we may think this is a custom from the past, it is not. Today there are still some sworn virgins who live in small villages, most of them in their 70s or 80s. And what is worse, there are still blood feuds.I don’t know if the author is about to write the second part but I would like to know more about Diana’s story.

  • Beth Sammons
    2019-04-13 19:45

    Interesting readThis was an interesting novel. The story of the sworn virgin is one that you see in many cultures where men are kings and women are slaves. It is a lifestyle of survival when there is no man to protect them. In this early age you see about real survival, imagine traveling without a horse, you have to carry everything, roads curve and you don't know what's around the bend. There seems to be many rules/laws that keep them safe. They don't shoot men who have a woman with them, they don't shoot a man in his own home, arranged marriages etc. If you don't hunt or gather you don't eat. If you don't gather firewood you will be cold. Medicine And treatments were unsafe wives tales past down. I admit I was fairly disappointed in the abrupt ending, it was a real surprise.

  • Heidi Brydon
    2019-04-23 11:55

    I had no idea that there was any country in the world where a woman could suddenly proclaim she's a man (basically) and then have every right a man has in her messed up crazy society. But it turns out that in Albania, back in the day, that was totally true. I have no idea if it's true now, I'm guessing not. The story of this book was so unusual, and compelling and romantic that I couldn't put it down. It was so great to read about a (pretty crazy) world that I know nothing about and just get completely swept up in that. I highly recommend this book, it's a real page turner and I can't wait to see what this author comes up with next!

  • Flavia
    2019-04-06 13:06

    While I generally read more YA than adult books, and am not usually drawn to covers like the one used for The Sworn Virgin, something about this book just called to me. Maybe it was the familiarity I felt with the traditional clothing the model is wearing? Since, Albanian and Romanian traditional wear is a little similar. Or maybe it was just the colours, and how they worked together. But in either case, it was enough for me to want to read the synopsis, and it was this, that convinced me to read and review this book.My first impression, once I opened the book, was that I really liked the narrative voice. It is written in the third person, but formulated in such a manner that it sounds more like an Eastern European grandmother telling you a story while sitting in front of the fireplace. And I do not mean this in any negative sense. In fact, I really enjoy it, since even as an adult (lucky to have both of her grandmothers alive), I still enjoy hearing them narrate fairytales, or even stories from their own past. Despite the first few chapters being the "set-up" for the story and its tone, they held my interest (because I for one, enjoy having the scene set up for me, rather than jumping right into a world, or right into the action with no warning --most of the time-- and they also held my attention) because of the familiarity in tone. I felt comfortable, as if I really was bundling up in front of a fire, and preparing myself for a good story.Eleanora, our sworn virgin (although not the only one we encounter in this book), is difficult to understand at first. She is an only child, and despite the difficulties faced by people who happened to be born female in that time, Eleanora was spoiled by her father. Having encountered a number of spoiled people who were the only children in their household myself, I prepared myself for feeling annoyed with her. And I was. But I pushed on, knowing that (as is the case with real life occurrences of this), her spoiled behaviour is partially, or mostly, the fault of the parent. Eleanora's father loves her, and means no harm to come to her, but by raising her the way he did, he ultimately did not prepare her for the real world. And I say this because, while he may treat her like a treasure, the rest of the world (in that time period, and that region) would treat her like a woman--more like livestock than a human being. (Not that I condone treating livestock poorly either. I'm in fact, quite against that...but that is a different story for a different day.) I felt myself becoming closer to Eleanora as the plot went on, and eventually became quite invested in her story. Reading on, I came to realize that she was dealing with obstacles in the only way she had learned how. The other characters felt quite tangible as well, and I found it interesting to read about them--it is evident, however, that Eleanora is the center of this story. I believe that a lot of research went into the writing of this book, which I am always appreciative of. And as I have never encountered any literature (or much information in general) containing Albanian people/characters, I found it quite interesting to learn more about this culture which was so foreign to me. I know that I mention this every so often, but I always find it very interesting to find parallels between cultures which I previously thought to be complete opposites. I am particularly in awe when a culture that I thought to be completely separate from my own, features certain traditions, clothes, food, etc. which are similar or even exactly as that of my own (Romanian culture). Albanian culture (at least in this book, and I therefore assume, many years ago) features many similarities to Romanian culture (in the past and in the present), and this factor was definitely one of the reasons why I enthusiastically continued reading this book.And finally, the last thing that I would like to discuss is the tradition of the sworn virgin. I have never heard of this tradition before The Sworn Virgin, and found it particularly fascinating. I will definitely be asking my family if Romania ever had a tradition such as this, but that aside, I found this Albanian tradition to be quite fascinating. Not only have I heard of this being a tradition in other cultures (which may be due to my lack of knowledge, and in which case I ask that you pardon me), making this tradition unique (particularly for that time period), but I also found it to be interesting from the point of view of someone who is interested in genders, and the societal teachings and enforcements of gender (in the past, and today). As the book's synopsis explains, when a woman chose to become a sworn virgin, she attained the right to live like a man. It was very interesting to me that this was a semi-official way of life, since physical sex usually indicates to individuals and society, which gender a particular person should behave like (not that this is something that I agree with). Yet, in historical Albania, a woman (obviously one who had never experienced sexual intercourse before...hence the "virgin" part of the title) could choose to live and act like a man, despite her genitalia.But enough of my rambles. If you find these kind of subjects, and story lines to be as interesting (or even fractionally as interesting) as I do, then I highly recommend that you read The Sworn Virgin. I also recommend this book to those who are Albanian and wish to read a book featuring a past form of their culture, those who like to read and learn about cultures different from their own, and those who generally enjoy historical fiction!

  • Lindsey
    2019-04-04 16:57

    Fast-paced story I could not put down. Loved learning about this remote part of the world, where a woman could become a man. I love historical fiction. This reminded me of Memoirs of a Geisha, in that I got to know so many obscure traditions. This book has a really strong woman as its protagonist. I hope there is a sequel, I need to find out what our heroine Eleanora does next!

  • Megan
    2019-04-18 15:43

    Gripping & cinematic. Such vivid imagery - this is one of those books I hope gets adapted for the screen. Usually avoid historical fiction but found this story so compelling I couldn't put it down.