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The English Civil War pitted fathers against sons, brothers against brothers and whole families suffered as a result of a conflict which changed England forever.. The cavalier army of King Charles I was no match against the rough and tumble of Cromwell's New Model Army.

The story opens in 1640 when Henrietta Challoner, the beloved only daughter of London merchant, Richard Challoner, is coming of age in a world where only sons really matter. However, Richard readily admits that his bright and beautiful daughter is more than a match for her brothers. When civil war beckons, the Challoner family face some tough decisions, and as father and sons find themselves on opposing sides, the prospects of the family looks decidedly grim and Henrietta is faced with an uncertain future.

What then follows is a compelling and beautifully written account of how the English civil war affected ordinary families. How daily living was turned upside down and of how the natural order of life was altered beyond repair. Henrietta is a feisty heroine, she is spirited and determined in the face of great danger. Her brother's Ned and Sam, both equally courageous, have difficult choices to make and it is their very different war experiences which add depth to the story.Richard Challoner has his own very personal battle to face, which is equally disturbing.

The story draws you in from the beginning and conjures a time of great uncertainty. The politics of the time is explained well, with fine attention to detail and, if you have an interest in English history then this really is a compelling read.
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on 16 February 2016
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on 19 August 2015
No problem +++++
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on 13 March 2015
If you know your history you know what
is coming.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 June 2014
Henrietta Challoner is the young daughter of a London merchant. With her mother dead, a death caused by her own birth and that of her twin brother Sam, Hen's life is quiet, unexceptional. Despite her intelligence and the tutilage of her enlightened father, Hen's life is spent in the shadow of her brothers Sam and Ned, her evenings tormented by her maliciously nostalgic nurse and her hopes repressed by her increasingly withdrawn and embittered grandmother. But this is 1640 and events are about to play a role in Hen's fate. As London increasingly deplores King Charles's war taxes, not to mention his Catholic foreign wife (Hen's namesake), and Parliament continues to be unpopularly silenced, time grows ever more ripe for Civil War and in 1642 it comes.

Like many families of the time, at least in fiction, brother is set against brother and the Challinor household is no different. Ned is a godly man, he is drawn to the Protestant cause, and as a result of this he finds himself naked, trapped under the likewise naked corpses of ally and enemy on the field of Edgehill. Unlike them, though, Ned is still alive. But deeply traumatised. Sam's allegiances may never have become clear if it hadn't have been for the traditional, old-fashioned and possibly naive support of his father for the king. When his immensely likeable, kind and blustering father meets his fate, it's then that Sam settles on the only course open to a stricken young man. Sam fights for the king. It's Hen who's left behind to try and hold house and home together. Falling in love with a man whose family may never accept her, Hen has to do the best she can to find a future for herself and her divided brothers, all the time wishing she could take charge of her own destiny and not be the one to wait at home and worry.

Treason's Daughter presents the ebb and flow of the 1640s, right through to the execution of the king at the end of the decade. These ten years, though, saw more than war. They also heralded a time of science and questioning and this is every bit as important to the novel as the battles and unease that tore the country in two. Hen's father is in love with science, trading stock for an abominably expensive microscope, while Hen's love Will is more astronomer than lawyer. Hen herself is a great reader and a Latin scholar. There is a sense, though, that her elder brother Ned belongs to an earlier world, one in which the Earth is still the centre of the solar system. His life is governed by God. Not that it is treated this simplistically. Ned is a loving son and brother. It's war that ruins things. War and disappointment.

Told in the present tense and moving between the stories of Hen, Ned and Sam, Treason's Daughter is an extremely emotive read. From the beginning I was hooked and I instantly fell in love with young Hen. Her relationship with her father is realistically loving but complex, made more difficult by her mother's death in childbirth. Sam and Ned are both deeply loved and Hen wants nothing more than to be like them. Some of her time, though, is spent with her cousin Anne's family, contrasting greatly with her own. Anne's story plays an important role in the novel. One might start off not liking her very much but as the fates play their hand sympathies stir. The lot of women during these days is an important theme. Romance might play a part at times but it's not romance as we might know it today.

Events are described subjectively, all through the experiences of our young protagonists. This means that battles, imprisonments, deaths and dreams are all made extremely personal and described with great feeling. This makes the reader sit on the edge of his or her seat. But it also means that there are times of great sorrow. There is lightness - the dialogue especially is delightful - but as the novel, and the Civil War, proceed, darkness subdues the light. Ned's experiences on the battlefield of Edgehill are unforgettable and enormously harrowing to read, as are other key moments in the novel.

The first half of Treason's Daughter is superb. I was enraptured by it. The second half did feel, at least to me, that it lost its focus a little and the emotional heart of the story slightly faded as characters seemed lost due to the chaos of war. But when the end came I felt that all of my senses were under assault and I had one of the most powerful reactions I've ever had to the end of a novel. It left me reeling and in quite a state. I finished it yesterday and I thought of it through the night and today I had to re-read the final pages. To have become as fond of these characters as I have is a huge testimony to the power and beauty of Antonia Senior's imagination and prose. The language is beautiful and feels true to the times. The emotional integrity of the characters is extraordinary and left me breathless. This is a book that pulls at the heartstrings as the country falls apart. I'm grateful for the review copy.
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on 14 July 2014
Antonia's writing style is fresh and lacking the usual clichéd descriptions found in historical fiction. Clearly not one to shy away from the nitty gritty, her battle scenes are some of the most raw and vivid I have ever read. She shows the many clashing viewpoints at the time, but also how, in truth, it was all one grey area with many overlapping views; those which when push comes to muskets might (for some) have been the kind of choice based on the flip of a coin. This book is dark and philosophical, yet also peppered with sardonic humour, alleviating some of the heavy tensions both in its politics and its plot. It questions the essence of war, the importance of familial ties, versus a sense of patriotic duty and tries to tackle the ambiguity and doubt strewn within religious causes.
The personality and thought process of each character was developed so well and subtly, that it is near impossible to identify at what point you become so attached to them all. Each is shown to possess the admirable and shameful human strengths and weaknesses that we all recognise, yet rarely admit aloud. The ending in particular was incredibly stirring, and at every turning point in the book we are forced to ask whether we would truly have acted any differently.
This book is a fantastic read, especially for someone who had previously very little knowledge of the English Civil War. Treason's Daughter is the perfect combination of a brutally loveable plot, the political intrigue of the true events and an enticing web of realistic characters.
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on 23 June 2014
I loved this book. The author skilfully crafts a gripping novel that's a real page-turner, but intelligent at the same time! I didn't want it to end, and I learned loads about the English Civil War at the same time. And so refreshing to read a book with a strong, feisty, smart female lead too.
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on 10 July 2014
The reviewer below has summarised the plot and characters perfectly. This is a great book - I was totally drawn in by the family dynamics, and instantly liked the main character, Hen. The author's feministic views shone through Hen in a way that made me feel extremely lucky to be a woman in today's world. I didn't know a huge amount about the history of the English Civil War - as the author notes in the historical notes at the end, we aren't taught much about our Civil War when compared to the Americans or French - so at times felt slightly out of my depth with the intricacies and complexity of the negotiations between Parliament and King, but the strength of the characters pulled me through the story - and it is certainly one worth sticking with. Very very pleased to have read it and can't wait to read more from this exciting new author!
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on 20 June 2014
I loved this book.

The excitement of the civil war, coupled with timeless themes of science, religion, identity, feminism and love.

A fantastic debut from an intriguing new talent.

Would have liked to see a more prosaic cover artwork.
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on 12 June 2016
It is clear, from the afterword, that the author has read widely on the period but, to me, the book was just another journalist writing an historical novel. The book, at least at the beginning, was curiously unengaging. It is written in the third person present tense, for no apparent reason, as this adds nothing to the story & is actually rather irritating. The story is written in modern language with modern expressions (including an exhortation to "man up") but, as is common, the author has added in a bit of "marchpane" & "breaking my fast" just to let us know that this is an historical novel!
I found the whole thing a bit irritating, although I did find it more interesting towards the end.
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