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Royalist Rebel Kindle Edition
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Elizabeth is an extraordinary character---"a piece of work" in modern parlance, who learns how to manipulate others for her own ends. She is an intrepid force to be reckoned with. But the reader is charmed by her magnetism. The depiction of her mother, Catharine Bruce Murray, is also a living portrait, who in spite of many privations---insults even--- from local Parliamentarian officials, is a firm steadfast Royalist and a devoted mother. All the characters in "Royalist Rebel" are well rounded and credible.
The sojourn in Oxford in 1643 at the King's makeshift court is particularly well described. The reader, with Elizabeth and her sisters, would have thought that even in Oxford, the court would be a glittering splendid pageant, but the reality was otherwise. Courtiers, the loyal Cavaliers, including William Murray, Elizabeth's father, present a shabby appearance, wearing worn and dirty clothes, and are beginning to fear Parliament's aspirations. The mood is brittle and apprehensive, the future of the King's followers uncertain.
"Royalist Rebel" is in that half way genre, between novel and biography, a medium used to excellent effect by Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory, and in this instance by Anita Seymour. "Don't let the facts spoil a good story"---past advice for cub reporters---but historical events interweave seamlessly and accurately in "Royalist Rebel". The excellent story-line holds the reader until the last page. It is difficult to assert where history ends and fiction begins.
The English Civil War is a period which does not attract many historical novelists, as so many factions, beliefs and sects manipulate events. Nothing was clear-cut. Anita Seymour presents a captivating picture of this world from the point of view of one woman, which enables the plot to move forward to her heroine's ultimate goal, the lasting possession of Ham House. The characterisation, dialogue and scenic description all combine to cause the reader to turn the pages with great enjoyment. Novel or biography? Overall an excellent story!
I like the way Elizabeth Murray's story begins with highlighting her present circumstances and the staunch allegiance of her parents to the Royalist cause. All the while her haughty manner and fundamental belief the enemy consist of nothing but filthy (smelly) Puritan folk (of low-birth) seems to imply Mistress Murray is indeed ignorant to the fact members of the aristocracy are fighting on both sides of the great divide. Nor does she seem cognisant to the fact that not all Parliamentarian soldiers are of Puritan mindset. I confess there were times when I despised Elizabeth's conceited grandiose self image and her prejudiced outlook, but she's not a fictional character and I didn't have to like her to admire her unstinting desire to keep Ham House in the family.
As time moves on and Ham House is under threat of seizure by the Parliamentarian Sequestration Committee, (a method of punishing supporters or suspected collaborators of the Royalist cause), Elizabeth resists at every given turn, though is often forced to capitulate when events and circumstances are beyond her control. But, if something is wanted badly enough, then feminine guile to deceive Cromwell and feminine wile to gain a titled husband is worth the risk in the overall scheme of bettering her position within society and gaining a long for coveted title.