Margaret (pling) wrote,

"Singer from the Sea" by Sherri S. Tepper

Sherri S. Tepper tends to have a strong theme to her books, either feminism, ecological issues, or both. In a lesser writer this would get very tedious very quickly, however she writes interesting stories that keep you wanting to know what happens next and even though they may share themes each story is unique.

"Singer from the Sea" contains both of Tepper's themes and is influenced by Maori culture (I don't know anything about the Maori so I can't vouch for her accuracy!). We follow the life of a girl called Genevieve who is one of the pampered women of the aristocracy of Haven. This planet was settled several hundred years in the past of the story, and seems to be run along fuedal lines with a strict religion. This religion requires women to be submissive to their menfolk, and basically allows noblewomen no life of their own. Arranged marriages are the order of the day. They are however allowed their 'youth' and are not required to marry before the age of 30, though they seem to do nothing but spend time at a type of finishing school where they are educated in the ways of appearing suitably brainless and decorative. As the story progresses it becomes clear that, as in all of Tepper's stories, something very nasty lurks below the surface ... not only are the women restricted by society, but all too many appear to die young and in child birth despite the attentions of offworld (and advanced) physicians. Oddly the peasant women don't seem to be nearly as frail, but there are tales of raiders who steal women away and they are always those who are still nursing ...

I liked this book, I think that Tepper's characters are believable, and although the situation is fantastical in many ways it brings her point across without hitting you over the head with it too hard! Having said that, I don't read her books often, or soon after one another, as the repetition of the themes begins to distract from the differences of the stories.

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