I love historical fiction and this book’s wonderful cover drew me in even before I had read the back page synopsis.
This is an amazing story about a young eighteenth century Irish woman, Kit Kavanagh, whose husband is taken one night and pressed into army service. Kit has always dreamed of adventure away from the day to day work in her family’s bar so when her Aunt Maura suggests she leaves to find him, Kit has no qualms about setting off on this great journey. She enlists in the army, disguised as a man and is transported to Italy. On arrival she is chosen to join the Scottish Grey Dragoons. After training she eventually goes with the regiment to fight in northern Italy. Captain Ross, the young commander who trained them is everything a good soldier should be; brave, handsome, honest and above all devoted to his men. Ross looks out for Kit, believing her to be a 16 year old boy and the ‘baby’ of the regiment. As they travel Kit’s respect for him grows into something far deeper. Pushing aside these feelings, she fixes her mind on finding Richard, her husband.
Kit goes through an amazing array of experiences as she journeys through Italy. Involved in fighting, injured in battle, challenging the regiment’s bully to a duel and being thrown into prison are only some of the things which happen to her. Then just when she feels her search is hopeless, someone brings her news of her husband’s whereabouts. And if you thought this is going to be the end of the story…well actually there is far more to come.
This story moved with great pace. Kit’s journey was a roller coaster of events with some heart stopping and quite sad moments. It’s also an amazing chronicle of historical events written with the kind of skill that raises it above many similar novels. I loved the writing and the story kept me reading right to the end. In fact was the kind of book I was reluctant to put down and always keen to pick up again.
I thoroughly recommend The Double Life of Mistress Kit Kavanagh – a very deserving five star read.
I would like to thank Hodder and Stoughton for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.