Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Received from publisher for review
“The moving, tragic story of Charles I, the last absolute monarch of England, during his imprisonment in Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight. Richly drawn and inspired by the New York Times bestselling author's own experience living on the Isle of Wight, this dramatic retelling brings to life the cavalier king whom Cromwell deposed. But even more fascinating than the account of royal hopes and misfortunes is the tale of a charming servant girl who is as romantic and tender in love as she is bold and resourceful in plotting the king's escape.”
This story was as much a coming of age story as it was a tale of Charles I while at Carisbrooke Castle. Our main character is Mary, who has lived at the Castle her entire life and can never imagine living anywhere else. The Isle is her life. When Charles I and his entourage show up there looking to hide out she is quickly enveloped in a life very different from what she is used to – a world of intrigue, daring-do, and political machinations. We get to see Mary grow from a very naïve young girl to a young woman who knows what she wants and can take matters into her own hands. I didn’t think I was going to like Mary at the beginning of the novel but she grew on me. I think once we got past the super naïve girl I began to enjoy her more. During the story she experiences her first taste of falling in love and her first heartbreak. These scenes were very sweet and developed in a believable manner.
I had never read about King Charles I before this book and I really didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that he was eventually executed. The end portion of his reign is covered in this novel – from the time of his escape to Carisbrooke to his execution. I would have liked to have been given a little bit more background for context purposes to know what led to the divisions between the King and Oliver Cromwell. It was sort of that he just showed up there and you were thrown into it. In terms of the King as a character, he was more of a passive character. All of the other book characters are working to save/rescue him and have conversations about him, but his active role in the novel is rather small. This book was written with a sympathetic view of the King in mind.
This wasn’t a very heavy novel but it was full of intrigue and plots of escape that made it a fun read.
Margaret Campbell Barnes wrote about a dozen books, many of which are now being re-released by Sourcebooks include: My Lady of Cleves, Brief Gaudy Hour, The Tudor Rose, King’s Fool, The Passionate Brood, and Within the Hollow Crown.
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