- 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)
Taking Liberties Paperback – 12 Aug 2011
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‘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'.
PRAISE FOR DIANA NORMAN AND HER BOOKS:
"Diana Norman is quite simply splendid."
"Cracking historical novels."
"Drama, passion, intrigue and danger. I loved it and didn't want it to end ever."
"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."
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you've read Norman's 'Catch of Consequence' then you have to read this as it continues the life and adventures of Makepeace Hedley (although it's no problem at all to read this... Read morePublished on 16 Mar. 2008 by Roman Clodia