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This Rough Ocean Paperback – January 23, 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 marks 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, is set 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. 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 and the fourth is Bartholomew Fair. This Rough Ocean is based on the real-life experiences of the Swinfen family during the 1640s, at the time of the English Civil War. She now lives in Broughty Ferry, on the northeast coast of Scotland, with her husband, formerly vice-principal of the University of Dundee, a cocker spaniel, and a rescue kitten. www.annswinfen.com
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The book is compelling reading and is so well written that I could only stop reading when my eyes wouldn't focus! In my head I knew the dialogue and many of the things that happened was fictional, but I was so pulled into the story, I found myself believing it was all true. Now THAT is the skill of a born storyteller.
The historical facts have been meticulously researched, as has the family genealogy. The story is a fictional account of Ann Swinfen's ancestors, John and Anne Swynfen, who lived in the 1600s. It is set during the English civil war/s (1642-1651 in total, but broken into three separate wars, 1642-1646, 1648-1649, 1649-1651). This book is set in 1649 mainly, but spilling over to 1650 by the end. They are brutal times, with famine and death throughout much of the country. The beginning sets the stage, with John Swynfen, along with his other "moderate" colleagues in the House of Commons, debating peace or war with other factions of the Commons. I found this background fascinating and learned so much that I didn't know, although I have studied the period. John's great weapon is his oratory, and it is this that singles him out as a danger to Cromwell.
The story switches between John and Anne as they are separated by war and shows how they both handled themselves in the different adversities that beset them. Could they rise above them and overcome, or would they be overwhelmed as so many were?
This book is exceptionally well -written and an amazing story and I recommend it.
The book is set in the period of time when England was being racked by Civil War. There were those who were for the king, King Charles Stuart I, and those who were against him, such as Cromwell and the fanatical Puritan faction.....there were those, who, like the author's ancestor John Swinfen, tried to find a way between the violence, killing, hatred, and destruction.
John Swinfen's beliefs, as a member of Parliament, caused him and others with similar views to be held in captivity by Cromwell's followerers. They were held, most of them, from one year to several years, as was John Swinfen.
Meanwhile, John's wife Ann, and his large family of children, have to try to leave London for their safety, when John is imprisoned. They finally do make it to the family home, but find that things there have gone from bad to worse. Only Ann Swinfen, a gentlewoman and mother, can decide what will be needed for the family and their servants and tenants to survive. At this time, this was definitely NOT a woman's activities! Yet, she had no choice, despite the treatment she received even by friends and relatives and villagers who had known her all her life. They could not accept a woman in charge of a large estate, farms, and so on.
The book goes between what is happening to John in his imprisonment, which included torture; and the events going on with Ann and the rest of the family. Some men would not even sell her hay, to get her animals through the winter, simply because she was a woman.....I've never seen/ or read/ the depth of hostility toward a good, decent woman simply because she was trying to save her family, and estate. It is believable and sickening......The local Puritan minister (going to church each Sunday was mandatory at that time) made her the focus of his sermons about disobedient, unwomanly, women!
Through all this, she didn't know if John was dead or alive. She had to act as if he would NOT be back, and make plans for the future, for what field should be sown with what, for what to do about the sheep, the cattle, all of these things normally NEVER the province of a woman.
The book is highly readable, believable, and tells of a time we haven't read much about......unlike the Regency, or Victorian eras, for instance.
I found it fascinating, and in fact read it twice, I was that enthralled with it!
I do wish the author would consider a follow up book, telling of the events following the period described in this book! I'm sure it would be worthwhile!
in where tradition didn't supply details. A good picture of the times and their dangers
Most recent customer reviews
Good read and enjoyable.
This Rough Ocean is about the fortunes of the Swinfen family in the...Read more