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Suffer the Little Children (The Chronicles of Christoval Alvarez) (Volume 5) Paperback – March 28, 2015
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About the Author
Ann Swinfen spent her childhood partly in England and partly on the east coast of America. She was educated at Somerville College, Oxford, where she read Classics and Mathematics and married a fellow undergraduate, the historian David Swinfen. While bringing up their five children and studying for a postgraduate MSc in Mathematics and a BA and PhD in English Literature, she had a variety of jobs, including university lecturer, translator, freelance journalist and software designer. She served for nine years on the governing council of the Open University and for five years worked as a manager and editor in the technical author division of an international computer company, but gave up her full-time job to concentrate on her writing, while continuing part-time university teaching. In 1995 she founded Dundee Book Events, a voluntary organisation promoting books and authors to the general public. Her first three novels, The Anniversary, The Travellers, and A Running Tide, all with a contemporary setting but also an historical resonance, were published by Random House, with translations into Dutch and German. The Testament of Mariam marked something of a departure. Set in the first century, it recounts, from an unusual perspective, one of the most famous and yet ambiguous stories in human history. At the same time it explores life under a foreign occupying force, in lands still torn by conflict to this day. Her second historical novel, Flood, takes place in the fenlands of East Anglia during the seventeenth century, where the local people fought desperately to save their land from greedy and unscrupulous speculators. This Rough Ocean is a novel based on the real-life experiences of the Swinfen family during the 1640s, at the time of the English Civil War. Currently she is working on a late sixteenth century series, featuring a young Marrano physician who is recruited as a code-breaker and spy in Walsingham’s secret service. The first book in the series is The Secret World of Christoval Alvarez, the second is The Enterprise of England, the third is The Portuguese Affair, the fourth is Bartholomew Fair and the fifth is Suffer the Little Children. She now lives in Broughty Ferry, on the northeast coast of Scotland, with her husband, formerly vice-principal of the University of Dundee, and a rescue kitten. www.annswinfen.com
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Again, Ann Swinfen has written a well-researched book, skilfully interweaving fictional characters with historical ones. There are no grammatical errors that I could see which makes reading much more pleasant.
Kit is still employed as an assistant physician at St Thomas' Hospital in Southwark, just outside the walls of London, caring mainly for children and lying-in wards. She lodges in the same building as her friend, Simon, who is one of James Burbage's players, and as often as she can, she spends time with the company who she looks upon as her good friends. In Elizabethan England, children and wives are the property of the husband and he can do what he will with them, presumably short of murder, although in the case of the very poor, who would notice one less child? Kit comes face to face with this problem when a child is left at the hospital bleeding from her mouth and with a bad cough. Does she have consumption ..... or is it something else?
Beggars are plentiful, both adult and children and it is autumn and growing colder when Kit notices a particular group of beggar children outside the playhouse. How the lives of these children and Kit intersect is very moving and shows just how truly compassionate Kit is.
When a five-year old heiress is abducted, Kit is called in to help find the child, as she is known to the family. She enlists the help of some of her Intelligence Service colleagues and their contacts. They discover who the abductor is but can find no trace of the child.
When she is eventually found we see how far depravity can go. (I will tell you it is not sexual abuse.)
There is another plot against the Queen's life, and the Intelligence Service is running down as Sr Francis lies dying. This book ranges over several different story lines but instead of feeling fractured, the author has managed to make it a cohesive whole. I do recommend this book but advise reading the series in order.