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Britannia's Amazon: The Dawlish Chronicles Volume 5  April - August 1882 by [Vanner, Antoine]
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Britannia's Amazon: The Dawlish Chronicles Volume 5 April - August 1882 Kindle Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
Book 5 of 5 in The Dawlish Chronicles (5 Book Series)
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Length: 306 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1558 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Old Salt Press LLC; 1 edition (1 Nov. 2016)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01M3Y525Z
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #163,280 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Unlike the previous books in the series, Florence Dawlish – Royal Navy officer Nicholas Dawlish's wife – is the main character. The events covered in the story take place whilst Nicholas Dawlish is in command of HMS Leonidas during her cruise to the Far East, and it deals with certain very dark aspects of Victorian life. Be warned, this is no rip-roaring yarn about naval battles but it is an excellently told social detective story about child abuse and prostitution as well as the social and working conditions that many members of the working class had to live and deal with on a daily basis.

The use of real-life characters is often poorly done in novels, but in this case - and knowing something about the real 'Napoleon of Crime' - it felt right and did not feel contrived.

The book also contains a short story about Nicholas Dawlish's early life which explains why he joined the Royal Navy. In my opinion this addendum alone was worth the cost of the book as it filled in some vital information that lovers of the 'Dawlish Chronicles' would have found informative.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Britannia's Amazon, by Antoine Vanner, is the most recent book in his Dawlish series, and a slightly unusual one. The events take place in England - mostly Portsmouth and London - and the main character is not Nicholas Dawlish but his wife Florence. Nicholas, as readers of the previous book will know, is away in the far east trying to blend military and diplomatic skills, and Florence finds herself in something of a parallel situation as she confronts vice and corruption at home.

However, Nicholas is present in spirit continually, as an anchor of reliable morality and a person who ultimately will approve or disapprove of Florence's actions. She feels at times that she is treading very close to the boundaries of his approval, and ultimately has to decide for herself how to resolve the ethical dilemma. By the standards of the age, it becomes a matter of finding the least bad option rather than an unequivocally good one. I am sure that most modern readers will agree with her choice.

I really enjoyed this book. Florence is a great character - resourceful, determined, and not afraid to challenge injustice. Her social background means that she constantly has to contend with prejudice, and she does so very effectively. One of my few regrets about the earlier Dawlish books is that she is sometimes relegated to a few pages at the start, before being left behind on the dockside like so many other navy wives have been. Here, she gets a whole book! Not only that, but it is fascinating to explore what might be called the home front - the country that Nicholas is constantly risking his life for. Its institutions are far from perfect, but the efforts of individuals like Florence are making the risk worthwhile.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I approached the book, a departure for Vanner, with trepidation. I have enjoyed Vanner's books and am looking forward to learning of his hero's adventures. I have never been particularly interested in his wife, Florence admirable though she is/was. How wrong I was. Britannia's Amazon maintained my interest throughout. our heroine and her friends find themselves drawn, inexorably, in to a morass of sin. Exposed to the horrors of the Victorian underworld her conscience compels her to act.

Many supporting characters from previous books make an appearance here and it is good to see them get a further outing. Vanner fleshes them all out into three dimensional individuals. Too many authors allow their supporting characters to become pastiches or caricatures. Not so Vanner who creates people you are desperate to meet and know.

A special shout out to the short story Britannia's Eye which is included with this book. It tells another part of the Dawlish story and delves into his relationship with his uncle, his sponsor in the Navy. Is he a retired man facing his own mortality or is he something very much more interesting indeed...?

I hope that Vanner will continue to explore the lives of Florence and other supporting characters as distinct from Dawlish (although more Dawlish too please!).

In summary an excellent addition to the Dawlish histories.
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Format: Paperback
Antoine Vanner’s latest ‘Britannia’ focuses on Florence Dawlish whom we first met in Britannia’s Wolf when she was Florence Morton (no relation, but I wish she was!). Florence is no kick-ass action heroine – a highly transgressive idea for the Victorian era – but in her persistence, high moral courage and straightforward courage, she can rival them.

Striving to transcend her humble beginnings, yet determined to keep contact with her family despite the almost ironclad social structure of Victorian times, Florence is a deeply sympathetic heroine. She is deeply in love with Nicholas, her naval officer husband, and he with her, and although a more modern idea, they are a team; she will do anything not to hinder or damage his career, he is determined to protect her from any slights or snubs due to her early life as a paid servant.

So when Florence is appalled, angry and then motivated to investigate a particularly nasty exploitation that lies beneath a pleasant façade of Victorian life, she is anxious that it doesn’t impact on her husband’s prospects. Of course, these two things soon come into conflict…

This is a story that does not pull punches; the research into misery, hypocrisy, yet bravery and high moral intent that characterises the Victorian period lays these bare. But the story is about a tough lady full of integrity, but no “goody two shoes” but one who does become anxious, worried, unsure of herself and her actions, yet persists.

The author cleverly guides us through the plot, opening up the the environment, informing us but never preaching. Florence and her friends Agatha and Mabel are a fearsome bunch, but so very human. Highly recommended.

And if you’re a follower of The Dawlish Chronicles, the additional story at the end, “Eye” gives us a bonus - a peek into the early life of Nicholas Dawlish. It solved one mystery for me…
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