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"Depth of Lies" by E. C. Diskin
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Aspiring playwright, Tom Goodluck is totally enamoured with his married lover Meg Stuckton, however, when dangerous circumstances prevent the lovers from being together, the only way Tom can survive is to flee his home town of Salisbury. Heading for the excitement of London, Tom soon becomes involved in a series of adventures which will ultimately lead him to his heart’s desire, which is, involvement in the exciting world of the London stage. Caught up in the drama of the Elizabethan theatre, Tom meets the enigmatic Huguenot, Alexandre Lamotte, whose penchant for espionage and danger, will lead both men into the very heart of court subterfuge. Meanwhile, Meg has her own journey to endure before she can take her rightful place in Elizabethan society.
The story literally thrives on excitement, from the rural domesticity of sixteenth century Salisbury, to the magic and mayhem of the glorious city of London, there is never a let-up in the narrative. The diverse characters, which flit into and out of the story, are reminiscent of a richly embroidered tapestry, each adding their own little splash of colour to the finished work, and, as the sights, sounds and smells of Elizabethan England are brought to life in glorious detail, the whisper of danger never seems very far away.
The story is professionally finished to a very high standard; there is fine attention to detail and enough twists and turns in the narrative to keep the most erudite of readers entertained.
I have no hesitation in recommending this book as an exciting romp through the hurly-burly of Elizabethan England, when plots and counter plots were the order of the day, and where hidden danger lurked around every corner.
Reviewed on behalf of Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews
It's a story with many unpredictable turns, and so riveting that I truly couldn't put it down. Meg leaves her husband and, along with her maid, sets out to find Tom. Her journey takes her from a life of luxury to that of a washer woman, and many things in between. Tom ends up in prison and if it weren't for the owner of a theatre that befriended him, he would have rotted in Newgate. The theatre owner is a great character and one of the rare people that show kindness to either Tom or Meg. I'll not say more about the story, except that it's brilliant and it hangs on the question of whether Tom and Meg will ever manage to find each other. The plot and pacing are impeccable. The characterisation strong and the prose engaging.
Steel takes us right into the era. We can smell the smells, taste the flavours, feel the rough clothes against our skin and see all too clearly the brutality of the time. Her descriptions of the public executions were horrific and the possibility that that could happen to Tom provided a powerful tension. The reliance of women on men for protection and provisions was strikingly obvious and the story certainly made this reader grateful for the developments in women's rights in the modern world.
I received this book free of charge from the author in return for an honest review. 5 stars.