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Royalist Rebel Paperback – February 19, 2013
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Royalist Rebel is a biographical novel about the tumultuous life of Elizabeth Murray, the Countess of Dysart, and later, the Duchess of Lauderdale. Born into a noble family and staunchly loyal to King Charles, their livelihood is threatened and daily life turns perilous when civil war breaks out. Elizabeth's royalist father works secretly for his monarch while the women of the family suffer sanctions and live in near destitution in Ham House. Rebels are everywhere and they are under constant suspicion. Faced with difficult decisions and torn between duty and love, Elizabeth strives to do what is best for those she loves. Written in first person present tense, the feeling that you get when reading the novel is one of immediacy and clarity. Elizabeth's character is beautifully depicted with all her virtues as well as her faults. This is due to the fact that Anita Seymour lived near Ham House and walked its corridors, its garden, its pathways. Her first hand knowledge of the scenery, decor, and locale make the story extra sharp with detail, lending it great credibility. I believe that behind every great woman is a great man. In Elizabeth's case, two great men - Baronet Lionel Tollemache, her loving husband of several decades, and her true love, John Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale. Both men are depicted insightfully through Elizabeth's eyes. Extremely well-rounded characters and their individual dreams, ambitions, and plights pepper each page of this fascinating novel. Most importantly of all, King Charles' execution is written with poignancy and respect, and remains one of my favourite parts of the book. Royalist Rebel is a novel of survival in desperate times and the ability of one one woman to overcome adversity in a period when women had little rights and were nothing more than chattel. A beautiful story with eloquent prose that truly brings the era to life! Historical fiction at its very best. - Historical Novel Review Blog A well-drawn picture of the Royalists' struggle to exist and serve the king under parlimentary rule. Seymour is excellent on the stress and the depredations as normal life disintegrates. Highly recommended for Civil War buffs. - Historical Novel Society Anita Seymour excels at setting. In the best way, very few poetic phrases call attention to themselves. -Good reads
About the Author
Anita was born in London, a city with a strong sense of times past, which she connected with at an early age. Her work within the genre of Historical Fiction is borne out of that enthusiasm. Anita is the author of four previously published works, ‘Duking Days Rebellion’ (2007) and ‘Duking Days Revolution’ (2008) and two Victorian Romances, ‘Trencarrow Secret’ and ‘Culloden Spirit’ (2011).
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Told in first person, we trace the life Elizabeth from the early days of the English Civil War through to the early 1650s. The telling of Elizabeth's later life in the Restoration years would require another whole volume! The eldest of the four daughters of William Murray, confidante of Charles I, Elizabeth has one goal in life to retain her hold over her beloved Ham House in Richmond. Her home's proximity to London and her father's royalist activities places the family in a parlous situation.
Elizabeth conspires with her mother (a character worthy of her own story!) and acts as a spy and courier for the royalist cause, while maintaining a veneer of respectability, courting the Cromwell family. As the family finances fail, Elizabeth marries the neutral Lionel Tollemache. It would have been easy for Seymour to portray Tollemache as a gull to his manipulative wife but Seymour invests him with character and makes him a character worthy of Elizabeth's deep affection if not her love. Her love, her passion is reserved for the Earl of Lauderdale (who she later married).
To say this is a well researched book would be doing it a disservice and consign it to the annals of a worthy but dry tome but it is anything but that. Elizabeth Murray leaps from the pages as any good, well written heroine of a historical story should. A wonderful read.
Elizabeth is beautiful, selfish, though loyal to her family. She's an English Scarlet O'Hara, but an actual personage who lived in the seventeenth century. Ms. Seymour's lyrical prose is a delight to read, and her knowledge of her time-period is impressive. I loved Elizabeth's tart tongue as she emerges as a young woman of intelligence and purpose. Anyone interested in the English Civil War, and its effect on the people rather than endless details of battles, will enjoy this novel.
I like the way Elizabeth Murray's story begins with highlighting her present circumstances and the staunch allegiance of her parents to the Royalist cause. All the while her haughty manner and fundamental belief the enemy consist of nothing but filthy (smelly) Puritan folk (of low-birth) seems to imply Mistress Murray is indeed ignorant to the fact members of the aristocracy are fighting on both sides of the great divide. Nor does she seem cognisant to the fact that not all Parliamentarian soldiers are of Puritan mindset. I confess there were times when I despised Elizabeth's conceited grandiose self image and her prejudiced outlook, but she's not a fictional character and I didn't have to like her to admire her unstinting desire to keep Ham House in the family.
As time moves on and Ham House is under threat of seizure by the Parliamentarian Sequestration Committee, (a method of punishing supporters or suspected collaborators of the Royalist cause), Elizabeth resists at every given turn, though is often forced to capitulate when events and circumstances are beyond her control. But, if something is wanted badly enough, then feminine guile to deceive Cromwell and feminine wile to gain a titled husband is worth the risk in the overall scheme of bettering her position within society and gaining a long for coveted title.