Wednesday 18 November 2020

REVIEW... Betrayal by various authors...

an independent review ... Shortlisted for Book of the Month

Alison Morton, Amy Maroney, Anna Belfrage, Annie Whitehead, 
Charlene Newcomb, Cryssa Bazos, Derek Birks, Elizabeth St John,  
Helen Hollick, Judith Arnopp,  Mercedes Rochelle, Tony Riches

e-book only - Free to download

Amazon UK
Amazon US (note this book should be free - Amazon needs to re-adjust)
Amazon CA
Amazon AU

short stories
various centuries
various locations

Betrayal, treachery, treason, deceit, perfidy’ . . . so begins the introduction to twelve very different short stories on the theme of the ‘calculated violation of trust’. Twelve stories by twelve skilled historical fiction authors, each set in a specific epoch, running chronologically from post-Roman Britain to a 21st century alternative history of a Roman colony.

The stories vary from imaginary accounts of betrayal by lovers, loved ones, friends and parents to retellings of significant acts of treachery and deceit by historical and legendary figures such as Mortimer and Richard III, and pirates Calico Jack and Anne Bonny. Told from a variety of perspectives, domestic and political, each story illustrates the multiple wounding effects of injustice and deceit.

I read this anthology from start to finish in a matter of days. Each story is gripping in its own way; each contains a shocking, saddening or maddening act of treachery, where the reader can empathise with the victim or the unwitting culprit, and feel outraged anger that such behaviour not only occurred but went unpunished.

What these stories also show is that the past is a complicated place. People did things differently there – or so we would like to think. But actually, no, the rotters, the perpetrators, were all subject to complex pressures in their own way, and no amount of toppling statues and monuments is going to rectify that. One needs to stand back and think about why their acts of betrayal occurred and what led up to each situation. Social perspectives, expectations and values differ according to the given period, gender and social class, but the universal truths of self-preservation, love and loss prevail.

One of the very good things about this anthology is how the various authors tell their tales. Some are more entertaining than others in terms of humour and irony, but each provides insight into a tortuous human dilemma or predicament such as why a parent found it necessary to sell a daughter; how, in trying to do the right thing a good person leads a royal child into a deadly trap; or why a noblewoman would risk exile or death to secure her son’s future.

In the introduction, Alison Morton tells us we will be reading about events that shock, cause disbelief, despair and a profound desire for revenge, and she is absolutely right. I would also add that the authors take us right into the past and help us see what it was really like there.

'Betrayal’ is definitely a Discovered Diamond. Very highly recommended.

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds

©  J.G. Harlond

 e-version reviewed

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