What a thrill to discover a sequel to 'No Shame, No Fear', which almost broke my heart back in 2004. William and Susanna have only seen each other once in three years, keeping their love alive through letters, but now he has written to say that he has been sufficiently successful in London for them to be married at last. Back in Shropshire, she daily expects his arrival, but it is the summer of 1665 and the Great Plague has begun. The persecution of Quakers continues, and Will finds himself in prison with his friends falling ill around him, while Susanna hears nothing and fears he may be dead.
In our age of fast travel and instant communication, it's hard to imagine what it must have been like to have to wait weeks or months for news of a loved one. The theme of patience with which 'No Shame, No Fear' ended continues here, but an older, even more independent and determined Susanna finally decides to take matters into her own hands, and almost makes a terrible mistake...
The emotional impact of this book, which continues the pattern of alternating points of view, is every bit as great as the first. I found poor Will's sufferings particularly hard to bear, and the long sequence dealing with the Great Fire of London is so powerful that my face felt as scorched as his when I had finished. But joys both anticipated and unexpected contribute to an ending which is quietly clear-cut and full of hope, while still leaving me longing for more. This is an enlightening, inspiring work by a brave, well-informed author - and the letters are an especially beautiful feature. I can't imagine a better reason for staying up until 3 am!
The sequel to No Shame, No Fear this is, in some ways, more sensationalist than its quiet predecessor. Will is now in London while Susanna waits in Shropshire, but when his letters stop coming she decides to go and look for him.
I felt the jealousy element that separates our lovers was a little out of place here, a sop to the genre conventions of love stories. And the plague and fire, while done well, changed the tone of the book, making it more outward looking in comparison with the interiority of the first book.
I also felt that the sentimentality got a little too overt here, while the first book was admirably restrained. I'm still glad I read it and have an ending to Will and Susanna's story but I think the first book was a tad better.
This is a wonderful sequel to No Shame No Fear. It is well-written, exciting and satisfying. We all wanted to know what was going to happen to Will and Susanna after the first book, and here is the answer. There is tremdous drama and tension in Forged in the Fire with the events of the plague and the great Fire of London dominating the story-line. This is first class writing from a first class writer. I would highly recomend this book to everyone who enjoyed the first one - and to those who haven't read it yet. If you enjoy historical drama and/or love stories, this is a book for you.
I returned to this fine novel when I heard that it is soon to be re-issued, and found it just as satisfying second time round.
Imagine a present-day novel opening with the words 'Sweetheart, I write in haste' and closing, 'God keep thee, and hold thee in the light'. Ann Turnbull takes us with no hesitation not only into the dramatic happenings of this time - plague, flight, fire - but also into the ways of thinking that motivate, separate and finally bring Will and Susannah together in London in 1666. Their romance began in 'No Shame, No Fear' - and romance it is, but not in any way romantic: even when they are married and Susannah is carrying their child, they fall into a quarrel about gender and power, and rage at each other over the issue of class which divided them in the first place.
Any historical novel must offer us contemporary insights, and Forged In The Fire has plenty. It asks about the nature of love, a question that is always with us, and about the nature of religious faith, which has recently returned to our own culture with such fearsome weight. At the same time we are drawn so vividly into a thumping good story and a wonderful range of characters that we can lose ourselves - before returning to the 21st century to discover that we have also learned a great deal.
The streets of 17th-Century London come alive in author Ann Turnbull's FORGED IN THE FIRE. The sequel to Turnbull's 2006 NO SHAME, NO FEAR, this well-written novel stands alone, dually answering readers' current questions while offering just enough ambiguity to pique their interest in the prequel.
Romance is alive and well in the plague-infested streets of 1665 London. But, times are hard and death is rampant, especially for Quakers such as Will and Susanna, who find themselves fighting against a close-minded religious establishment in addition to disease and poverty. Readers are left to breathlessly concede that a happy ending, no matter how deserved, is far from guaranteed.
Turnbull is skilled at entertaining readers while covertly educating them. Her scenes are full and powerful, bringing excitement and history to the forefront, yet never overpowering or heavy-handed. Readers will fall wholeheartedly into the love story of Will and Susanna, while simultaneously aching for the thousands of actual lives truly lost to sickness, disaster and ignorance in the London of yesteryear.
This, readers will understand, was a time of great fear, but not a time beyond equally great faith: "We ate with relish and felt glad to be alive," recalls Will. "The plague was in the city--but danger was always present. We must go about our lives as usual and trust in God" (p. 25).