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Taking Liberties Paperback – 12 Aug 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Paperback, 12 Aug 2011
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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New Ed edition (12 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007105460
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007105465
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 4.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 937,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


‘Diana Norman creates an exhilarating sense of these times and their possibilities.’ Daily Telegraph

‘A sparkling historical novel.’ Sunday Tribune

‘Diana Norman wears her erudition lightly…Moves at a cracking pace with a stunning denouement.’ The Times

From the Back Cover

She had been a dignified wife, ever mindful of her husband's status, even if she could not respect the man. But now, however young, she was the Dowager Countess, so Diana felt that she had earned her freedom. When a friend now living in the American colonies appealed for help to find her missing son, caught up in the colonial struggle, she was determined to respond whatever her family felt.

Diana Stacpoole's search takes her to Plymouth, only to meet another and very different woman searching for her young daughter. Outraged at the conditions in which the American prisoners – not being given prisoner of war status, the non-combatants of their era – were kept, the two women from such opposite backgrounds form an unlikely alliance to improve the prison conditions, outwit the authorities and assist their friends to escape.

But how can the highly controlled aristocrat, with her assumptions of privilege and respect come to terms with Makepeace Hedley, the former innkeeper and now outspoken owner of one of England's richest mines, with her passion for liberty and freedom for all? The changes in both of them allow them to become remarkable friends, defying family pressure, social outrage and political scandal, to ally themselves with libertarians, French prisoners, English smugglers and American escapers. Finding liberty for others leads them to splendid liberty for themselves.

'Taking Liberties' is an unusual novel and a delight to read. It may be set in a historical period but the contemporary echoes are vivid and clear. Diana Norman has written an excellent successor to 'A Catch of Consequence'.


"Diana Norman is quite simply splendid."
'Frank Delaney'

"Cracking historical novels."
'Daily Mirror'

"Drama, passion, intrigue and danger. I loved it and didn't want it to end ever."
'Sunday Times'

"It's all good, dirty fun shot through with more serious insights into the historical treatment of women and perhaps, in its association of sex, sleaze, greed and politics, not so far removed from present realities after all."
'Independent on Sunday'

"Diana Norman creates an exhilarating sense of these times and their possibilities."
'Daily Telegraph'

-- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This wonderful novel deals with the issue of freedom in three fronts: the American war of independence from Britain (which is constantly discussed, and which creates the conflict that sparks the plot); the total loss of freedom and rights -and appalling conditions- that prisoners of war suffer (which further complicates the plot); and most especially, the personal independence of the main character, Lady Diana Stacpole, who finds herself free of her abusive and very "noble" husband after 20 years of nighmarish marriage.In the end, it is made clear that freedom, even when imperfect (e.g. at some point it becomes apparent to the characters that the American declaration of rights is not going to respect those of women, black people or other minorities'), is better than the lack of it. You may think the theme sounds very solemn and, certainly, the ethical aspects of freedom, as well as the problems of the British class system and the responsibilities towards our fellow human beings (even war enemies), are unblinkingly discussed. However, the result is not sermonizing thanks to Diana Norman's wonderful sense of humour and her ability to create the most eccentric, yet believable and endearing characters. And there are plenty of those! To be frank, you won't be able to stop chuckling even in the middle of the most heart-wrenching moments. Did I mention that this novel is also a wonderful adventure complete with a escape from prison, a daring rescue, an outragious kidnapping, a whole lot of smugglers, a dangerous chase....? Also, bear in mind that, although this novel can be perfectly read on its own, it can be read as a sequel of "A Perfect Catch", too. Here we meet again the tempestuous Makepeace Burke and other characters from the previous novel. I confess I am currently trying to buy ANY other novel by this same author, but can't find any still in print. So, don't miss this!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's a mystery to me why the novels of the late, lamented Diana Norman aren't more widely available in the UK - a re-launch of this superb trilogy in paperback is surely overdue. I had to buy this, the middle volume, as a second-hand hardback (though no criticism of the vendor is implied - it was a bargain).
It's 1778, and the story of former New England tavern keeper Makepeace Burke continues and intertwines with that of recently widowed Diana, Countess of Stacpoole. These two very different women meet by chance in Plymouth, both trying to locate missing persons, and the tale unfolds when they encounter the terrible conditions that prisoners of war are having to endure: escape seems the only answer, and a smuggling community is roped in to help.
This is an author with a rare gift: she creates a totally credible historical setting, then fills it with modern characters you can recognise and relate to immediately - yet it's never anachronistic. They speak a language which sounds convincingly of the past, and yet it also sounds completely natural: these are real people, having real conversations.
The plot is a page-turner, but it's also a story about important things like friendship, loyalty, motherhood, social class - and liberty. The liberties being taken don't just refer to the American War of Independence, being waged at sea as well as on land at this time: this is a book about women from all stations in life who have fought for emancipation, too, from Makepeace herself, of course, to aristocratic Diana, finally freed from an abusive marriage, to the fishermen's wives who form the backbone of their community. It's the best sort of feminist message - not a tract, but a good story that happens to be about real women.
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Format: Paperback
Norman has done it again - created vivid, complex and compelling characters whose stories you just don't want to end. I first read her book A Vizard Mask nearly 9 years ago, and not one of her subsequent books has disappointed. I found Diana, Lady Stacpoole an extraordinary believable and sympathetic heroine, it has been a real pleasure meeting Makepeace Hedley of A Catch of Consequence again and the twists and turns of the plot are extremely exciting. The villain is also one of the creepiest individuals I've read, a real original and very plausibly motivated. My only quibble is that I would have liked more of the love interest as he's a very vivid and incredibly sexy character.
The historical aspects of the novel are well-written without being like a lecture in the War of Independence, the philosophical ideas that are touched on are dealt with lightly but underpin the story and Norman's wry and human voice carries the novel through to its triumphant conclusion. For my money, the best living historical novelist and a genuine heir to the marvellous Dorothy Dunnett, despite dealing with totally different times.
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Format: Hardcover
Norman, one of the best prepared of current historical novelists, bases her works on sure-footed plotting and commentary derived from careful research. Her knowledge of prisoner-of-war scenarios during the American Revolution fuels her novel with pathos for the defeated and dismay at the spiteful, brutal conditions that follow every world cataclysm. Best of all, she creates female characters who rise above tea at four to express compassion and gumption. Does it get any better than Norman's novels?
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