Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: “The Royal Art of Poison” by Eleanor Herman

Eleanor Herman, who earlier this year posted a guest post here on The Seventeenth Century Lady (“A Glorious Poison: The Deadly Toxins of Palace Life”), is a popular historian whose past book titles include Sex With Kings and Sex with the Queen. In The Royal Art of Poison: Fatal Cosmetics, Deadly Poisons, and Murder Most Foul, published this… Read on

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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… Read on

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Book Review: “The Time Traveller’s Guide to Restoration Britain” by Ian Mortimer

When one considers that Dr Ian Mortimer is one of the best-known medieval historians in the world, it is perhaps natural to be slightly dubious of a work about the Restoration by a person who specialises in the medieval period. Wonderfully, this book was fantastic and any reservations I may have had melted away quite quickly. I’m a bit late… Read on

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Book Review: The Illumination of Ursula Flight by Anna-Marie Crowhurst

The Illumination of Ursula Flight is a largely lighthearted coming-of-age historical novel set in 1670s/1680s England and centres on the life (from birth to adulthood) of Ursula Flight. The book begins with a style often used by novels of the 17th century and made me immediately think of Daniel Defoe’s works. This tale is told in the first person… Read on

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Book Review: “The Real Guy Fawkes” by Nick Holland

After having read Antonia Fraser’s great book on the Gunpowder Plot, I wanted to read a biography of Guy Fawkes. Unfortunately, I waded through several of those cheap and inaccurate (and, therefore, largely ultimately worthless) Kindle biographies of Guy Fawkes, and was left rather annoyed. Happily, I came across Nick Holland’s book on NetGalley, which I only recently… Read on

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Book Review: “Maids, Wives, Widows” by Sara Read

Maids, Wives, Widows: Exploring Early Modern Women’s Lives, 1540-1740 by Sara Read is a book I’d been wanting to read since it was originally published in 2015 by Pen & Sword. I became acquainted with Dr Read through Twitter, and she subsequently has contributed two popular articles here on The Seventeenth Century Lady. In her book, which is… Read on

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Book Review: “The Wilding” by Maria McCann

The Wilding by Maria McCann is a novel (originally published in 2010) set during the early 1670s (with some events having previously occurred during the English Civil Wars). Jonathan Dymond, the twenty-six-year-old protagonist of the novel, is a cider maker who makes his living by travelling from place to place turning people’s apple harvests into cider (the popular alcoholic drink). … Read on

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Book Review: “Minette” by Melanie Clegg

Published by Madame Guillotine in 2013, Minette is the first part of Melanie Clegg’s two-part series of historical fiction books about Henrietta Anne, youngest daughter of King Charles I of England and his French-born queen, Henrietta Maria. Melanie Clegg is best known for her works about Marie Antoinette, and her books set during the eighteenth century. For this,… Read on

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Book Review: “Nathaniel’s Nutmeg” by Giles Milton

In the present day, most of us can easily find spices such as nutmeg, mace, and much more at our local supermarkets. It certainly wasn’t always that easy to obtain such exotic spices – and, thanks to this book, I’m never going to look at my spice rack in the same way again. Nathaniel’s Nutmeg, originally published in… Read on

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Book Review: “To Catch A King: Charles II’s Great Escape” by Charles Spencer

With To Catch a King: Charles II’s Great Escape, out on the 5th October 2017, Charles Spencer has done it again. As the author of some fantastic books about seventeenth-century Britain, such as my personal favourite, Prince Rupert: The Last Cavalier, Blenheim: The Battle for Europe, and his most recent work, Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared… Read on

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Book Review: The White King – Charles I by Leanda de Lisle

The White King, Charles I, Traitor, Murderer, Martyr by Leanda de Lisle certainly has quite a provocative title. Charles I remains a very polarising figure, in much the same manner as his contemporary, Oliver Cromwell, and the labels of “traitor” and “murderer” will undoubtedly ruffle feathers of the more staunch monarchists out there. By the same token, “martyr” can… Read on

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Review: “Pleasing Mr Pepys” by Deborah Swift

Pleasing Mr Pepys is the newest work by Deborah Swift and set to release this September (2017), and I was fortunate to have been given an advance review copy. To me, Swift brought Deborah Willet, the Pepyses, and the London of the 1660s to life in an exciting and sometimes touching way. I found this to be a really enjoyable story, with its various… Read on

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Review: The Devil on the Road by Robert Westall

The Devil on the Road by Robert Westall was published in 1977 and recommended by my husband. Apparently, according to my husband, was a title on a reading list at school and he read it back in the early 1980s. I had never heard of this book before, but as he had very fond memories of it, and as… Read on

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Review: Arbella Stuart – The Uncrowned Queen by Jill Armitage

Arbella Stuart: The Uncrowned Queen by Jill Armitage, published by Amberley Publishing in 2017, (the title on Goodreads is Arbella Stuart: England’s Almost Queen) takes readers back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and begins with the formidable Bess of Hardwick’s invitation of Meg, Countess of Lennox, to one of her houses. Now, Bess of Hardwick was… Read on

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Review: Sweet Alice by Leelou Cervant

Being as I’m reading absolutely anything set in the seventeenth century at the moment, it’s no surprise that includes a bit of erotica, as Sweet Alice by Leelou Cervant is. I don’t mind erotica, it’s not totally my cup of tea, but neither am I against it. If you find explicit sex scenes unpleasant or offensive, this book… Read on

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Review: Spain: The Centre of the World 1519-1682 by Robert Goodwin

Being as I don’t know as much as I’d like about the history of early modern Spain, I’m currently trying to rectify this at present. Enter Robert Goodwin’s book, Spain: The Centre of the World, 1519-1682, which I listened to in audiobook format with a duration of some 21 hours. This is, in my opinion, an excellent overview… Read on

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Review: Lady on the Coin by Margaret Campbell Barnes

Lady on the Coin, written by Margaret Campbell Barnes and first published in the early 1960s, follows the life of Frances Stuart, the woman who was the model for Britannia. Frances Stuart was related to the Royal House of Stuart and this story begins during the Stuarts’ exile in France following the English Civil Wars and ends during… Read on

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Review: Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre

A few years ago, I went to a classical violin concert at the Wigmore Hall in London. The music selected was the kind you tend to get on Radio 3, slightly weird, postmodern, and lacking any discernible melody. I was absolutely bored out of my mind until the end when the violinist played Massenet’s Meditation from Thais. Given… Read on

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Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

As I’m no longer bound by deadlines for my own work, I’ve been making progress on my list of books to read for fun. One of these was The Miniaturist, which was published in 2015 and widely acclaimed. This book was, largely, unputdownable and I looked forward to the few minutes of reading time I have at the… Read on

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Review: Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach

Sophia is the beautiful and much-younger wife of Cornelius, a wealthy merchant in Amsterdam. Her husband is quite likeable and rather amusing, and she is content enough with the life she leads with him. Everything gets turned upside down when Cornelius decides he wants to get their joint portraits painted by painter Jan van Loos. Van Loos and Sophia… Read on

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Review: Silence by Shūsaku Endō

Shūsaku Endō (1923-1996) was a Japanese writer famed for incorporating his Roman Catholicism as a theme into his work. Silence, originally published in 1966 is a novel set in the 1630s and which centres around the young Portuguese Catholic priest, Rodrigues, who sets off from Portugal with his fellow priest and missionary, Garupe. The two have heard rumours concerning… Read on

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Review: House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

4.5 stars – I really liked this book, which is historical fiction, time-slip, fantasy, historical and contemporary romance, and even has a bit of murder mystery. There are three different storylines, one in the seventeenth century, the early nineteenth century, and present day. It should be no surprise that my favourite story was the one set in the… Read on

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