Tuesday 24 July 2018

A Discovering Diamonds review of Forsaking All Other by Catherine Meyrick

AMAZON UK £2/17 £9.95
AMAZON US $2.94 $13.95 
AMAZON CA $3.84 $18.09


This is essentially a romance set in England in 1585, but it is an exceptionally thoughtful romance. Bess Stoughton is the heroine, a young widow whose father threatens her with a second marriage to an elderly gentleman with a dubious reputation for liking young girls – a plan not to her liking at all. She decides she will find her own husband and within a year, too.

The plot has two main strands that become entwined and cause joy for one young woman and grievous harm to another. The day to day activities of gently reared young ladies seemed to consist of endless sewing interspersed with the odd gathering where the gentlemen add a certain jollity to life, but mixed in with that normality is the danger of life at the time. England is at war against the Spanish, and men died horrible deaths in the Low Countries. Papists in Protestant England were also under severe threat and the author writes very well of the fear that can grip a household when accusations begin to fly.

The author takes the view that Josephine Tey was right when she claimed that if characters “did not sound quaint to each other, then they have no right to sound quaint to us.” She has avoided very modern terminology and only those contractions that Shakespeare used, plus a scattering of 16th century terms, have been allowed to flavour the whole work. The main characters come off the page very well, though I did find the hero a little flawed, or a little weak; I have trouble believing that a man who does well at war can be overruled by his mother.

I found the beginning a little slow and Meyrick’s writing style alternately charming and a tad over-written in places, with some confusion about flashbacks for this reader... although I stayed up late to read the happy ending I had little doubt was sure to come. 1585/6 is about forty years later than the Tudor period I know best, but the exposition is adequate and keeps the reader on course.

 I recommend this book to anyone interested in romantic historical fiction.

© Jen Black

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