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The Monmouth Summer: A Novel of Love, Rebellion, and Courage (Women of Courage Book 3) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 391 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
Vicary's writing style is second to none in this book. From the very first page, as we are introduced to the people of Colyton, and in particular the Carter family, the world in which the characters live in seems to burst from the page and come alive. Vicary weaves his prose together masterfully, and as I read I could quite clearly imagine the scenes being described. And as the story began to pick up pace, and the rebel armies of the Duke of Monmouth began to clash with the Royalist troops, it was as if I could hear the musket shots in my ears. It's not often that a book does this to me, and when it happens it is a real breath of fresh air. As I was reading through however, I did notice a couple of odd grammar mistakes such as full stops in random places throughout the sentences, but I can overlook this as it wasn't blindingly noticeable. As well as this, I really loved the way the Vicary made his characters speak. The town where the story is mainly set, Colyton, is a real town located in East Devon; and throughout the prose, the characters speak in a west country accent. And Vicary makes this clearer by having the characters actually speak as those in the West Country did (and still do for the most part!):
"Good day Mr Carter! Sorry 'bout Methuselah! Come here Methuselah, you stupid beast! You'm scarin' they 'orses!"
Almost all of the characters spoke like this throughout the story, and it really endeared many of them to me. It's little things like this that can change a book from a good book, to an excellent one.
As I mentioned previously, the story follows the inhabitants of Colyton (a fun fact: known as the most rebellious town in Devon due to their part in the Monmouth rebellion) as they hear of King Charles II's bastard son coming back from overseas to try and take the throne back from his Catholic uncle, James II. The main character of the story is Ann Carter, a young lady born to a good Puritan family, and she is betrothed to Tom Goodchild. The problem for Ann however is that she is secretly in love with Robert Pole, second son of the local Lord and a supporter of King James. Ann finds herself torn as the men of her village march off to war (including her father) and to fight for the Duke of Monmouth. She is betrothed to marry Tom, who she does not love; yet in love with a man who her father would likely end up meeting on the field of battle. The character of Ann is an interesting one and throughout the narrative you can really see how desperate she is to break free of the ties that bind her to the village and to see the bigger picture. So much so she finds herself highly tempted when Robert offers to take her to London as his mistress. And you can see this throughout the entire story - she fights to stay true to her family's wishes, to marry Tom and remain true to her faith yet at the same time delights in escaping the village and travelling with the army. And yet despite this new found freedom she finds herself entangled in a life where she must face life or death decisions and finds out that the world is not one to be viewed through rose tinted glasses.
I was incredibly pleased also with the amount of research that went into this book. As a bit of a seventeenth century nut (who, to my shame, was in the Sealed Knot at one point as a musketeer), I was paying quite close attention to the description of the battles, and the musket drill. And it was spot on. And even though I was only ever in a pike block once in my time with the knot (and was rather drunk at the time, thanks for that Nantwich!), I couldn't see any issues with the pike drill being described in the story either.
All in all, a fantastic story right from the get-go that includes some of the most names and faces of the Seventeenth Century - Prince Rupert, Judge Jeffries and the Battle of Sedgemoor. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Seventeenth Century and looking to read a well researched, action packed story of an incredibly famous rebellion in English history.
Caught in the middle of a war that is none of her making, Ann Carter knows she should support the Monmouth cause and the men of her village, including her betrothed, but she secretly hopes that the war will release her from her boring fiancé, leaving her free to follow her illicit love, the dashing Robert Pole, son of the local lord and an officer in the King's army.
Tim Vicary has captured the era with deadly accuracy. In those days life was brutal and held cheap. Women were chattels and any life other than that of dutiful wife was considered improper. Amid the violence and horror of the rebellion, Ann struggles with her conscience and her secret desires.
This is a beautifully-written and well-researched work full of fascinating detail about life in 17th century England. In fact, if you want to learn history without trying, this is the way to do it.
But you should read it for other reasons too. Mr Vicary knows how to write a good tale. His characters are utterly believable and the plot is exciting, drawing the reader in to an alternative world. This is what I believe fiction should do, and if it teaches you something about a very interesting period of history, then that is a bonus.
I recommend this book without reservation.