Tuesday 13 February 2018

Counterpoint by Elizabeth St John

Theo, Earl of Suffolk: The Lydiard Chronicles 

AmazonUK £0.99
Amazon US £1.36

Biographical Fiction/ Novella
Early 1600s 17th Century

Theo Howard, Earl of Suffolk is torn. Betrothed to a child to satisfy his family dynasty, he longs for the freedom to make his own choice. And when he attends a lavish party at his family's newly-restored palace, he is immediately attracted to Lucy, a beautiful young lavender-seller. But in this enchanted world of Shakespeare's Midsummer's Night Dream, all is not as it appears. Theo's headstrong sister Frances is determined to sabotage her own arranged marriage, and aided by the cunning of Frances and her friend Barbara St.John, perhaps Theo can find his own path to happiness and true love.”

Ms St John explains: “When I wrote The Lady of the Tower, the story revealed itself in the narrative of my ancestress, Lucy St.John. But, as with all novels, other characters appeared, and their voices grew strong and insistent, demanding their own story be told. This is Theo’s counterpoint to chapter six in the novel, in which Theo meets and falls in love with Lucy St.John. A counterpoint is a melody played in conjunction with another, or an opposing viewpoint in an argument. Our lives are complex, and each one of us carries within us a counterpoint to another’s story. Here is one to Lucy St.John, the Lady of the Tower.” And a very good one it is!

What I found refreshing about this story was that the hero, Theo, is not a perfect being, but a very  believable flawed character just like any person alive today. I liked him in Lady of the Tower, and now I like him even more because of meeting him in depth within these pages. Life is not all ‘happy ever after’, plans, hopes, dreams can and do go wrong, the good times have to walk alongside the bad. Real life circumstances are not fictional make-believe, and that is why I liked this novel. It was so believably real. The characters are likeable or dis-likeable for a variety of reasons, the plot is engaging, the historical facts behind and woven into the story are well researched and interesting.

Elizabeth St John is a stunning writer, she puts in the right amount of detail to bring a story alive, but not so much that you feel you have inadvertently wandered into a history lecture on seventeenth century life.

I only have one complaint.  Far too short... but then this is a novella and there are Ms St John’s other two excellent books to devour again! Even so... more please!

Highly Recommended

© Helen Hollick

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  1. Thanks for the great review Helen! I'm tempted to write more - but perhaps next one up is Barbara in the short story list!

  2. I am thrilled this story about Theo was added to the lineup because, unlike Helen, I finished Lady of the Tower loathing him. This short story made me realize how biased I was to feeling compassion for the girls in arranged marriages, with no thought to how the young men felt. The system was awful. Thanks goodness we no longer do this to our children.

  3. How wonderful to have a different view of a character! (it's that which makes fiction so exciting - same book two different perspectives!) Sadly in some cultures arranged marriages still happen, some of which is nothing more than abuse for young girls.


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