Review: Great Maria by Cecelia Holland

by Cecelia Holland

Publication Date: August 3, 2010
Sourcebooks Publishing
560 pages


SYNOPSIS: Her father is a robber baron...

Her husband has grand ambitions and a quick temper...

She will become...the Great Maria.

A lush portrait of the eleventh century that leaves out none of its harshest nature, Great Maria is Cecelia Holland at her most evocative. A mere fourteen years old, strong-willed Maria is betrothed to Richard. Theirs is a marriage of conflict, yet one that grows over the years into respect and partnership. As they struggle-at times against each other, at times side-by-side-Maria and Richard emerge as full-blooded characters you'll never forget.

REVIEW: This was my second Cecelia Holland novel and I gotta say my emotions are mixed. Haughty and clever, with an innate ferociousness when threatened, Maria is not your typical 11th century woman and while I am always intrigued by a book focusing on a strong-willed, it took me a while to warm up to Maria.

Unfortunately, it also took me a while (150 pages) before it started grabbing my attention and had this not been for review I don’t think I would have continued. Maria’s husband, Richard is an ass who treats her badly and beats her, which husbands in the 11th century had every right to do, but I just hated him. And even though I respected Maria, I would sometimes found myself questioning her actions. But in later scenes she would remind me of two other glorious women from the Middle Ages, Isabel Marshall or Isa de Tosney and you can’t go wrong in the company in those ladies.

Holland’s writing is choppier than I prefer (though that does get better as the novel picks up) and sometimes confusing to where I found myself having to re-read paragraphs to figure out what was going on, but in the end I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and am glad that I stuck with it.

For more information please visit Cecelia Holland's WEBSITE.

FTC DISCLOSURE: This book was sent by the publisher for review.



  1. Sometimes it does pay to stick with a book.

    Thanks for the review

  2. Hmm, not sure what to think of this one. Thanks for the review though!

  3. As someone who writes about strong women, I have to say it's nice to see an intelligent, as opposed to a fashion-model, face on the cover of this book.

  4. Yours is the second lukewarm review I've read about this -- I think I'm going to bump it lower on my TBR.

  5. SOunds good. But I am not sure if this one is for me!

  6. Glad to see that it did pick up for you :)

  7. Thanks for a good, honest review. I have had books I have hung in there to finish and been glad I did. It is sometimes hard to adjust to an author's style.

  8. This one was really hard for me to get through as well. I don't think that I would have finished it if not for the review. The writing style was frustrating as were the characters.

  9. Sounds like a good one, but having to stick it out....not really down with that. I don't posess a lot of patience. Thanks for the honest review.

  10. Sounds like a good read. I wonder if I'd have stuck with it myself though.


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