Thursday 1 March 2018

Lady Fanshawe's Receipt Book by Lucy Moore

Amazon UK £6.64
Amazon CA $9.99

17th Century
English Civil War/Restoration

Although non-fiction, let me say right from the beginning that Ms Moore’s beautifully crafted phrasing makes this book as entertaining and compelling as a well-written novel. From the very first interaction, Lady Ann Fanshawe springs from the page, and we are immediately immersed in her world. By using the very recipes and letters that she wrote to bring us into her life and times, Ms Moore perfectly blends authoritative facts with an empathetic narrative, bringing to life Lady Fanshawe, her family, and her world.

Following the Fanshawes through some of the most turbulent times in English history, we travel from England at the beginning of the Civil War through to the Restoration and the dreams and disappointments that accompanied these happenings. At the beginning of each chapter Ms Moore selects a recipe that illustrates the situation Lady Fanshaw finds herself in, and each has its own fascination in both the ingredients and application.

The poignancy of war, of those left behind to mind the home front is evidenced Lady Fanshaw’s pre-occupation with nursing childhood ailments, as does her frequent commentary and notes about the everyday people and situations she encountered throughout her life. Even in the fiercest of wars, women are left to try to get on with a “normal” life, and Lady Fanshaw does so with courage and conviction. Perhaps even more heartwrenching in the account are the gaps – where she was too ill to write, or the overwhelming grief of another child dying stilled her pen.

Through the challenges of civil war, the unsettling finances of an exiled court, and the triumph and tragedy of simply trying to survive, Ann Fanshawe is an unforgettable and inspiring woman. Once started, I couldn't put the book down. And now that I've finished it, I think I have to read it all over again.

An absolute must for anyone intending to write fiction about this period.

© Review by Elizabeth St.John


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