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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid stuff - a very good read!
This really is very good stuff - and a must for anyone who's never read an historical novel before!
The characters of Ann and her father, Adam Carter are superbly written and one gets the impression of the puritan religious way of life and attitudes of the Civil War and Restoration.
And the dialogue is absolutely perfect! Every character we encounter is...
Published on 9 Nov. 2012 by David Fenn

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2.0 out of 5 stars Slow
An interesting period in history, but the book's characters fall a little flat. I couldn't wait to get done with the story.
Published 6 months ago by Lego Mom


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid stuff - a very good read!, 9 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: The Monmouth Summer (Kindle Edition)
This really is very good stuff - and a must for anyone who's never read an historical novel before!
The characters of Ann and her father, Adam Carter are superbly written and one gets the impression of the puritan religious way of life and attitudes of the Civil War and Restoration.
And the dialogue is absolutely perfect! Every character we encounter is believable and well written.
A man haunted by the guilt of cowardice and a young woman torn between two lovers; yes, it is a stupendous tale but a realistic one; such things did occur, to Nell Gwynne for example.
Vicary's storytelling is smooth enough to make you not want to put this book down, and with realistic battle scenes and believable narrative about how war changes different men in different ways combined with the lawlessness and religious fervour of the period makes this a very English book, and predominantly Ann's story but is a tale for both sexes and a must for anyone interested in historical warfare.
Don't think I can recommend this enough really. It's a lovely piece of work.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 7 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: The Monmouth Summer (Kindle Edition)
When Charles II died and was succeeded by his Catholic brother, James, England was torn between loyalty to the Crown and fear of papists. The Protestants, who had flourished under Cromwell and Charles, now had to worship in secret. When the inevitable rebellion came, in support of Charles' illegitimate son, James Duke of Monmouth, a great deal of the support came from these dissenting groups. This is the story of the people of the village of Colyton, `England's most rebellious town', and their struggle to defend their faith.
Caught in the middle of a war that is none of her making, Ann Carter knows she should support the Monmouth cause and the men of her village, including her betrothed, but she secretly hopes that the war will release her from her boring fiancé, leaving her free to follow her illicit love, the dashing Robert Pole, son of the local lord and an officer in the King's army.

Tim Vicary has captured the era with deadly accuracy. In those days life was brutal and held cheap. Women were chattels and any life other than that of dutiful wife was considered improper. Amid the violence and horror of the rebellion, Ann struggles with her conscience and her secret desires.

This is a beautifully-written and well-researched work full of fascinating detail about life in 17th century England. In fact, if you want to learn history without trying, this is the way to do it.
But you should read it for other reasons too. Mr Vicary knows how to write a good tale. His characters are utterly believable and the plot is exciting, drawing the reader in to an alternative world. This is what I believe fiction should do, and if it teaches you something about a very interesting period of history, then that is a bonus.

I recommend this book without reservation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Monmouth Summer, 22 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: The Monmouth Summer (Kindle Edition)
1685. Six long weeks of hell on earth. The Duke of Monmouth, Charles II's illegitimate son, lands in England from his voluntary exile in Holland in an attempt to claim the throne of England from James II, his uncle.

His father, Charles II, adamantly refused to name his son as heir, declaring only legitimate heir could inherit, of which he had none with Queen Catherine of Braganza. A lusty man, to put it mildly, Charles was the father of several children which he acknowledged, but never legitimized.

The Duke of Monmouth felt he had irrefutable proof he was legitimate. Rumors circulated Charles II married a Lucy Walters prior to his marriage to Catherine. The Duke of Monmouth was the offspring of that relationship. Monmouth claimed he possessed written evidence of the marriage between his mother and father.

James II, younger brother of Charles II, is an avowed Catholic, a denomination that does not sit well with the common people. Puritanism is alive and well, albeit in secret. The people attend an Anglican church as decreed by James II on Sundays but, in their minds, there is little difference between the Anglican and Catholic churches. The Puritans hold secret meetings (conventicles), always with a lookout for betrayal.

Adam Carter, a cloth merchant in the village of Colyton, is Puritan. He has a great fear he is not one of the chosen Elect predestined to enter Heaven. He is positive he is bound for Hell. No amount of good works on his behalf will ever redeem him. His fate is sealed. A disastrous event occurred much earlier in his life. He suffers mental anguish over the consequences to this day.

Ann Carter, the eldest daughter of Adam, has been brought up a Puritan but is being wooed by Robert Pole, a second son of local nobility, with the temptation of life in London as his mistress. Marriage, of course, is out of the question.

Ann yearns for all the delights Robert describes, but her conscience nags her about the impropiety of such a life. Not to mention, she is betrothed to Tom Goodchild, the village shoemaker. Her family, especially her father, is concerned about Ann's state of mind. Her meeting with Robert was witnessed and her father is determined nothing shall come of it. Adam, as her father, is responsible for the state of her soul.

Ann's family is very strict and now they do not entirely trust her. Robert Pole is not Puritan and, therefore, to be absolutely avoided. Ann, on the other hand, is having feelings of affection, leaving her in a quandary.

She has managed to delay her marriage to Tom for many years, but now time is running out and she is close to being forced into the marriage. A cottage is chosen for their home. It is everyone's expectation. The marriage is long overdue. Ann is unsure; Tom is a large, rough man. She is uncertain he will be gentle with her. After an agonizing night of bargaining with God, she tells her parents she will marry Tom.

The marriage is postponed by a coded letter telling citizens to be ready and armed. Monmouth, it is said, will land in England to overthrow James II with the common people as his army. Rumors become reality.

After the meeting where this news is revealed, the Carter party is accosted by riders, including Robert Pole, searching for dissenters. Ann sees Robert in a different light, which confuses her all the more. She also discovers Tom is a Puritan fanatic, which frightens her tremendously.

Poorly armed and untrained, men flock to Monmouth's cause. They have no conception of the horrors that await them. The deprivation, the blood and gore, incompetent leadership, death of comrades, the daily struggle to march on in abysmal conditions and kill or die. For Adam Carter, each day is a test of his courage, of which he feels he has none. He is convinced he is a lowly coward and can never be otherwise. He will ultimately face the greatest challenge to his courage.

The militia invade Colyton and take over the Carter home. Ann becomes involved in the rebellion by bringing much needed horses to the men. On her return home she is captured by the militia, but is determined to return to her father's side and lend her aid to the cause. Ann will find no ease of mind concerning Robert Pole or Tom Goodchild during the horrors of war. Her decision awaits, as does her conscience.

Tim Vicary's The Monmouth Summer is written from the perspective of the common people. A refreshing change in these days of "marquee" novels. He masterfully details the daily, even hourly, challenges facing these courageous people who firmly believe they are doing what God desires of them.

Vicary delves into the mind of a Puritan, an extremely ascetic and self-disciplined denomination, often lead by a zealous preacher who demands his flock follow doctrine without deviation. Some Puritans suffered horribly over their every thought and deed and whether they are damned to hell for the slightest infraction. Vicary convincingly incorporates these moral dilemmas into The Monmouth Summer.

All in all, I very much enjoyed reading The Monmouth Summer. I unhesitatingly recommend it to historical fiction fans who want to read about everyday life and the challenges common people faced, not by their choice but by that of the monarchy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love Is a Battlefield Where Faith Can Be Your Enemy!, 26 July 2012
This review is from: The Monmouth Summer (Kindle Edition)
This is a very interesting fictional account which takes place during 1685; a period leading up to The Monmouth Rebellion, also known as The Revolt of The West.

King Charles II dies leaving no heir to the throne so his catholic brother James II succeeds him. He is not a popular choice with the English Protestants and there is much unrest as rebels against the King gather support for an uprising under the leadership of King Charles' illegitimate son; The Duke of Monmouth who returns to English shores from Holland armed with a battle plan.

The story follows the villagers of Colyton who join forces and go off to join the Duke's rebel army. Ann Carter is the village heroine who is betrothed to her childhood friend Tom Goodchild (village shoemaker) whilst secretly in love with Robert Pole (senior officer in the King's army who is keen to persuade her to be his kept mistress). Ann struggles with her heart and her faith; her loyalty to her family and her desire to break free and experience life outside the confines of the village.

As the battle gets underway, she becomes caught up in the danger whilst on a mission to fulfill a request from her father. Each person struggles with conflicts both on and off the battlefield as they come to grips with their own secrets, fears and question their faith. As the fighting increases and the story unfolds, the villagers find themselves in a tangled web where life or death decisions must be made.

This book, although a little slow to begin with, launches right into the action and really had me visualizing the battle sequences as I was reading. It also has something for everyone (romance, action, history, drama) and pushes at the boundaries of loyalty and betrayal.

Andria Saxelby for The Kindle Book Review
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read with lots of historical facts, 11 Aug. 2014
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Great read with lots of historical facts. Brutal era which was fairly graphic in places but then it reflected the actual events of the time. The fictional part of the story was very well written and kept my attention. It was both educational and a good read. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good characters - good read., 6 April 2014
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Tim Vicary can tell a good story, and for readers who want a lighter read, this will be enjoyable. I did find the opening a little slow to 'get going' and there were a few predictable plots and outcomes - but that doesn't mean the story failed.
The history seemed detailed, the facts appeared to be right - although I do not know a lot about this period.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So realistic, 15 Sept. 2014
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Kes47 "Brand47" (Northumberland U.K.) - See all my reviews
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I had known very little of the Monmouth rebellion, but this book really brought to life the futility of the venture and the realities of life at the time. I cannot recommend the story highly enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 11 Aug. 2014
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really enjoyed the book and am now looking at other books by this author
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read!!, 9 Oct. 2012
This review is from: The Monmouth Summer (Kindle Edition)
When I was asked to review this book, I jumped at the chance. As readers of this blog will know I have a bit of a thing for all things Seventeenth Century (despite having not really done much on it recently...), and a book set in the midst of the 1685 West Country Rebellion seemed like my perfect historical novel. Now I've said in before, and I'll say it again - I'm not a big fan of historical fiction; but this turned out to be one book that was the exception to the rule. In a nutshell, I thought that this book was a masterpiece. My love of the Seventeenth Century includes pretty much everything from James I onwards, but I have a particular love of the English Civil Wars, Restoration and more recently, Monmouth's rebellion in 1685. Over the past year or so I have been devouring non fiction books on James Duke of Monmouth and his rebellion; and it also helps having grown up near many of the towns featured in both the historical rebellion, and this novel. And from the get-go, I devoured this book.

Vicary's writing style is second to none in this book. From the very first page, as we are introduced to the people of Colyton, and in particular the Carter family, the world in which the characters live in seems to burst from the page and come alive. Vicary weaves his prose together masterfully, and as I read I could quite clearly imagine the scenes being described. And as the story began to pick up pace, and the rebel armies of the Duke of Monmouth began to clash with the Royalist troops, it was as if I could hear the musket shots in my ears. It's not often that a book does this to me, and when it happens it is a real breath of fresh air. As I was reading through however, I did notice a couple of odd grammar mistakes such as full stops in random places throughout the sentences, but I can overlook this as it wasn't blindingly noticeable. As well as this, I really loved the way the Vicary made his characters speak. The town where the story is mainly set, Colyton, is a real town located in East Devon; and throughout the prose, the characters speak in a west country accent. And Vicary makes this clearer by having the characters actually speak as those in the West Country did (and still do for the most part!):

"Good day Mr Carter! Sorry 'bout Methuselah! Come here Methuselah, you stupid beast! You'm scarin' they 'orses!"

Almost all of the characters spoke like this throughout the story, and it really endeared many of them to me. It's little things like this that can change a book from a good book, to an excellent one.

As I mentioned previously, the story follows the inhabitants of Colyton (a fun fact: known as the most rebellious town in Devon due to their part in the Monmouth rebellion) as they hear of King Charles II's bastard son coming back from overseas to try and take the throne back from his Catholic uncle, James II. The main character of the story is Ann Carter, a young lady born to a good Puritan family, and she is betrothed to Tom Goodchild. The problem for Ann however is that she is secretly in love with Robert Pole, second son of the local Lord and a supporter of King James. Ann finds herself torn as the men of her village march off to war (including her father) and to fight for the Duke of Monmouth. She is betrothed to marry Tom, who she does not love; yet in love with a man who her father would likely end up meeting on the field of battle. The character of Ann is an interesting one and throughout the narrative you can really see how desperate she is to break free of the ties that bind her to the village and to see the bigger picture. So much so she finds herself highly tempted when Robert offers to take her to London as his mistress. And you can see this throughout the entire story - she fights to stay true to her family's wishes, to marry Tom and remain true to her faith yet at the same time delights in escaping the village and travelling with the army. And yet despite this new found freedom she finds herself entangled in a life where she must face life or death decisions and finds out that the world is not one to be viewed through rose tinted glasses.

I was incredibly pleased also with the amount of research that went into this book. As a bit of a seventeenth century nut (who, to my shame, was in the Sealed Knot at one point as a musketeer), I was paying quite close attention to the description of the battles, and the musket drill. And it was spot on. And even though I was only ever in a pike block once in my time with the knot (and was rather drunk at the time, thanks for that Nantwich!), I couldn't see any issues with the pike drill being described in the story either.

All in all, a fantastic story right from the get-go that includes some of the most names and faces of the Seventeenth Century - Prince Rupert, Judge Jeffries and the Battle of Sedgemoor. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Seventeenth Century and looking to read a well researched, action packed story of an incredibly famous rebellion in English history.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Slow, 22 Aug. 2014
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An interesting period in history, but the book's characters fall a little flat. I couldn't wait to get done with the story.
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The Monmouth Summer
The Monmouth Summer by Tim Vicary
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