Celia Rees
www.celiarees.com

Sovay

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Synopsis

Sovay begins her life as a highway robber to test her lover, but she is living in dangerous times, full of fear, with the spectre of the Revolution in France reaching across the Channel. Sovay’s father has disappeared, the family are tainted by accusations of treason. Sovay takes to the road in earnest to clear her name and quickly becomes entangled in a terrible web of deceit and duplicity. Can she escape before the net closes in on her and all around her? 

Praise for Sovay

Red star Publishers' Weekly starred review, 21st July 2008
"Rees's evocative writing will once again sweep readers back in time to meet another of her iron-willed protagonists, Sovay, who is fashioned after the heroine of a traditional British ballad. Raised in the English countryside during the French Revolution, 17-year-old Sovay embarks on a mission to find her missing father and brother, who've been condemned for supporting the Revolution. Her search takes her to dangerous corners of London and Paris, where she plays the roles of highway robber, spy and socialite to gather clues and outwit a treacherous villain who desires to overthrow Britain's throne. History buffs will relish detailed descriptions of period dress, inventions and architecture sprinkled throughout the novel, but may be most intrigued by the author's insight into France's shift of power after the storming of the Bastille. Capturing the romantic, dramatic flavor of late-18th-century prose ("However much she fought against it, a sense of menace, vague, but all-pervading, began to seep into her soul") without compromising the complexity of her characters, the author creates a suspenseful tale of political intrigue and class struggle."

Times Educational Supplement, 25th July 2008
Rating: 5 stars
" ‘Sovay rode out early while the dew was still wet on the grass.’ So begins another great book with strong historical leanings from the pen of Celia Rees. The year is 1794 and seventeen year old Sovay is a lady with a difference. Too brave and kind-hearted for her own good, with a social conscience ahead of her time, Sovay’s initial foray into the life of the road is intended merely to expose her fiancé for the double-dealing villain that she suspects him to be. However, thrilled by the excitement and adrenaline rush of her first ‘hold-up’ Sovay continues with her unusual diversion until more serious matters take her first to London and then to Paris where she encounters all manner of dangers inconceivable to one of her age and background.
"It is a restless period in history when, inspired by the writings of Thomas Paine and the Revolution in France, many are looking for change from the old orthodoxies while spies are everywhere. Sovay’s father, known for his Enlightened views has vanished as too has Sovay’s brother, Hugh. Undeterred by danger Sovay is determined to find them. Along the way she encounters a variety of colourful characters, some good, some bad from luckless orphan Toby, to the gallant Captain Greenwood, many of whom come to her aid in unlikely places and at crucial moments but such is the skill of Rees that the reader never knows when or from where assistance is likely to come. Sovay makes an enemy of England’s most dangerous man, one Dysart, a villain of the highest order, who is determined to use the unrest of the times to fulfill his own evil ambitions. It will take all Sovay’s courage and ingenuity to escape his increasingly desperate clutches. To say more would spoil the story.
"A historical romance fuelled with danger and tension in which the descriptive writing builds character, atmosphere and place. There is plenty here for an enthusiastic English teacher to use in order to increase pupils’ creative writing skills while the accuracy of the historical detail would be excellent for any student of the period. Not only does Rees give a realistic view of the Terror in Paris but her references to Burke and Paine as well as the Hell-Fire Clubs in England lend authenticity to her tale and added interest for the adult reader.
"At 400 pages some young readers may be daunted by this novel’s length however the writing is such that the pages fly by so quickly that the end comes too soon. ‘Sovay’ is an excellent read and should be enjoyed by many from able Year 8s upwards including adults in search of holiday reading or reviewing possible texts for class study." Lucinda Moubray

Bookseller, 21st March, 2008
" …plenty of action, political intrigue and historical detail…
"…romance, thwarted passions, sinister intentions and of course the heroine herself make it spot-on for teenage girls." Sue Steel, Simply Books

Amanda Craig interviewed Celia for The Times's book section, about Sovay and her other books, 24th May 2008
"Sovay is a gorgeous, breathless, headlong romp of a read, whose heroine takes on every challenge of the period, from being captured by a Gothic villain to being incarcerated in the notorious Conciergerie prison hours from execution at the guillotine." Amanda Craig

Sovay was Sunday Times Book of the Week – here's the article by Nicolette Jones, 1st June 2008.
"a compulsive, rollicking read full of colour and facts (some racy) about a feisty highwaywoman in 18th-century England, and about France in the worst days of the Terror… a swift, intricate plot scattered with handsome rogues and heroes," Nicolette Jones

Sarah Fletcher writes about Sovay in the Times Educational Supplement, 30th May 2008
"Sovay is a strong-willed, independent character who frequently outshines her male peers, and in this respect the novel is valuable in promoting teenagers not to bow to traditional ideals of femininity and submission if they don't want to." Sarah Fletcher

Freya Sykes, 19th June 2008
"A really clever and intelligent read that doesn’t overawe or patronise, but simply walks that fine line of a damn good read."