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By Love Divided: The Lydiard Chronicles 1630-1646 Kindle Edition
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By Love Divided takes us through the early rumblings of political unrest in England, starting in 1630, several years before King Charles’s Scottish Wars through the end of the first English Civil War in 1646. We are reintroduced to a widowed Lucy Apsley as she tries to secure a future for her teenage children. While the initial focus of the novel starts with Lucy, it brilliantly shifts to her daughter Luce Hutchinson (a historical diarist who recorded her Parliamentarian husband’s actions during the war) and her son Allen (who supported the King). I worried first for Lucy and wanted to see her children set up for success, then I quickly grew to care about Luce and Allen as they matured and settled in their life’s path. By the time the war breaks out and the family is divided I was fully invested. The author should be applauded for portraying the war in all its heartbreaking tragedy, and she does not shy away from exploring the emotional ravages of war.
If you want a compelling, exquisitely written story to immerse you in the past, By Love Divided is a must read! I consider it one of my favourite historical reads and it's earned a place on my keeper shelf! 5 plus stars!
What I really enjoyed about this story was how well the main message of the novel was conveyed: no matter where your political allegiances lie, the family blood bonds should be stronger than anything. Also, the little episode where Luce falls ill with smallpox and her betrothed John doesn’t care one bit about his future wife’s possible disfigurement and only hopes for her survival, was incredibly touching to read and made me like his character even more. Luce herself, with her strong will and opinionated nature that was highly uncommon for women of the 17th century, also won my affection right away. The feeling of political unrest, the life of the king’s court, and the battle scenes were also presented with incredible vividness, and I couldn’t get enough of this story. Definitely, a must-read for all fans of the genre. Five stars.
This novel is the sequel to The Lady of the Tower, which I haven’t read yet. But, I do have it queued up on Leif, ready to begin after I finish writing this review. (For those of you who do not regularly read my blog, Leif is my Kindle. I mean, c’mon! It prompts you to name your Kindle at set-up. I couldn’t just name him ‘Stacie’s Kindle.’ Anyway, I digress…) From the reviews that I have read of The Lady of the Tower, it is excellent. Which I do not find surprising in the least, after devouring By Love Divided in record time.
This book continues the story of the Apsley family. (By the way, I was able to read this as a stand-alone with no problem.) The story continues with Lucy; now widowed, bankrupt and trying desperately to provide security for her children. While these hardships and subsequent resolutions play out, her children, Luce and Allen, are growing older and finding themselves on different sides of the political unrest swirling around them.
Elizabeth St. John is brilliant at fleshing out the characters in the story, bringing them to vivid life for her readers. Each character is historically, accurately researched; each with their own depth, personality, quirks and emotions. The calculating reality of court life, the tribulations of battle and war…the author does not shy away from portraying the circumstances of history and the scenes the characters find themselves, in paralyzing, beautiful realism.
Between the author’s writing, her gift for research and the characters themselves, I could not put the book down. I felt as though I myself was a part of the family, a participant in the goings-on of the story. I can’t wait to dig into the first book of the series, and seriously hope that we have not read the last of the Apsley family.