Though Polish by name and English-born, author and antiquarian Catherine Czerkawska considers herself a Scot. This fact could not be more evident in her latest novel, The Posy Ring, largely set on the fictional Hebridean island of Garve. The Posy Ring is the first in a planned trilogy, which sees antiques dealer Daisy inherit a large and decrepit home. Running parallel is the tale of Francisco and Mateo, refugees of the Spanish Armada who find solace on Garve, where both Spaniards and islanders hold a resentment towards the English crown.
This is not a novel that will appeal to a mass audience. In fact, it will appeal to two minor subsections of the reading public, one considerably more niche than the other. Put simply, The Posy Ring is part-romance, part-Antiques Roadshow. The house Daisy conveniently inherits is full to the brim of mysterious trinkets, and because every single one of the book’s central characters are involved in the buying and selling of antiques, readers, whether they like it or not, are treated to a great many anecdotes and insights into that world.
Now, there is nothing wrong with a niche subject matter, of course – a well-written Scottish historical-romance could be big business. However, The Posy Ring cannot be considered well-written. For one, the awkardness of Czerkawska’s dialogue is matched only by her poor grasp of Scots dialect. The plot is sparse at best, and so the pages are filled with flowery descriptions of Scotland – the novel’s only partial triumph – and a romance more grating than Twilight. Cal, like Daisy, is an antiques dealer, and so may have “ulterior motives” in dating her – namely, getting a look at her new house – causing the author to label the relationship “dangerous” at every opportunity. This aspect of the novel is so wildly, ham-fistedly overplayed, so gag-inducingly heavy-handed, as to render the characters downright unlikeable. Expect eye-rolls aplenty. That they so rarely behave in a believable, realistic manner does not help, and the parallel sixteenth-century romance is little better.
While the takeaways are not all horrific, The Posy Ring reads like the fantasy of a Flog It-obsessed writer looking to recapture some past love and lust. If that tickles your fancy, then who am I to judge?