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March 10, 2024

The Phoenix Bride by Natasha Siegel ~ a Review

by MK French

In 1666 London, widow Cecelia Thorowgood is trapped in her older sister’s townhouse. Doctors are impatient to cure her grief, and her sister finally turns to a new Jewish physician to save Cecilia. David Mendes fled Portugal so he could practice his faith and medicine freely, but still is unhappy in this strange land. Of all people, he knows there is no easy cure for grief. He understands Cecelia's pain and grows attached to her, torn between his heart and his practice. The great plague had come and gone, but the Great Fire is coming...

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of historical fiction novel The Phoenix Bride by Natasha Siegel
March 2024; Dell; 978-0593597873
audio, ebook, print (336 pages); historical fiction

Cecelia had the good luck to marry for love, while her twin sister married for money and prestige. After her husband died, she fell into grief so profound, we would recognize it as depression. This is what leads to meeting David, who is separated from his mother and much of his community after their deaths in the plague. The two immediately have a connection, as strong as love, but the prejudice against Jews is strong in London, for all that he can practice his faith. There are other aspects he hides about himself that we don't learn until later, but he has a melancholy streak himself. 

The picture we have of life in 1666 London is very vivid, and the turns of phrase in this novel are gorgeous. "We all have empty rooms in our hearts. Better to fill them, surely, than to lock their doors and hope they are forgotten." Grief, anxiety, and depression all manifest, and the Great London fire throws it all into sharp relief. We get to see what matters most to Cecelia and David, as well as their closest friends. Fear can make a prison that's difficult to escape from, and learning to move past that fear will allow happiness to shine through again. 

Buy The Phoenix Bride at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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  1. Great review, MK! I love books set in the 50s 60s and 70s, so I'm going to strongly consider this one. Thanks for the suggestion.