This book is so good! I love Kathleen Kent’s writing. She is a great storyteller who brings her characters so richly to life and always seems to make me want to learn something new. I am also glad to have come know this woman, Martha Carrier and her husband, Thomas, a little more through this novel.
This book tells the story of Martha Allen and Thomas Carrier and gives us a glimpse into Thomas’s history as a soldier in the English Civil War.
The novel alternates narratives between Thomas and Martha in New England and a group of assassins back in England. These assassins are sent to bring back the ‘traitor’, the one who beheaded King Charles I, for punishment and execution. Now, I typically enjoy dual narratives, but in this case, with this book, the story of the assassins didn’t interest me that much. Their violent world of dog fighting, torture and betrayal just wasn’t as interesting as Thomas and Martha’s story. I found myself reading their chapters quickly so I could get back to New England and find out what was happening with Thomas and Martha. I would have preferred for the second narrative to focus more on Cromwell and the war but I realize that, with this storyline, Kent was illustrating the fact that spy rings were an active and dangerous presence at that time.
Now, Kent does tell us about Cromwell and the war as part of Thomas’s history, I only wished for more of this story. In my opinion, these were the best sections in the novel. Kent, as usual, is descriptive and evocative and brings this chapter of history to life. She whet my appetite to learn more about Oliver Cromwell and the English Civil War. However, what I read made me really dislike Cromwell, but I still want to know more about him.
It was also interesting to see how women helped each other and called on each other during difficult times like the birth of a baby or, sadly, the death of one. I was surprised by the lack adequate medical care, but it served as a reminder that at this time in history sickness and death were an all too frequent an occurrence.
I really enjoyed this story. It was an interesting read that definitely made me want to learn more about Oliver Cromwell. Kathleen Kent’s books seem to have this effect on me: they leave me thirsting to learn more about history. But then again, isn’t good historical fiction supposed to do just this thing?
How about you? Have you read this book or any of Kathleen Kent’s books? Do you have a favorite? If so, tell me in the comments below.