Book Review: “The Road to Newgate” by Kate Braithwaite (2018)

What Kate Braithwaite did with the Affair of the Poisons scandal of Louis XIV’s France (Charlatan) she’s done again – this time in the volatile late 1670s England. Nearing the second decade of the Restoration and told first-person through the eyes of several different characters, The Road to Newgate gives us the horrific episode of the Popish Plot (1678-1681) – a fabricated conspiracy concocted by the malicious schemer Titus Oates. This brought an already-bad anti-Catholic atmosphere into full-blown hysteria  – which unfortunately proved fatal for those who were accused. Braithwaite’s fictional Oates is every bit as unpleasant and unlikeable a character as the real-life one is believed to have been.
The novel is not only about political and religious plots and intrigues, but there is a real human element – certain parts moved me greatly and brought tears to my eyes – especially the story of the two main narrators, Nathaniel and Anne, a married couple.
17th-century history buffs will recognise historical figures such as the Earl of Shaftesbury, the Duke of Monmouth, Sir Edmund Godfrey, Charles II, and others feature in the tale.
Braithwaite’s story is gripping, moving, and brilliantly captures this tense and sometimes brutal episode in late seventeenth-century English history.
Published by Crooked Cat Books, this book is out on the 16th of July, 2018.
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