by Christie Dickason
This was a beautifully written, immensely satisfying novel set in Jacobean England after Queen Elizabeth I's death and in the early years of the reign of James I. At the heart of the story is the conflict between religion. Many of the people want to be able to worship as they and their forefathers had done for years, as Roman Catholics. Even though King James promised to be tolerant of those with beliefs different from the Anglican Church, he became less tolerant with each year he was King.
Thus the stage is set for a handful of desperate men who devise a treasonous plot to assassinate the king and all of Parliament by blowing up Whitehall with gunpowder. The plot was foiled by an anonymous letter. Today November 5, known as Guy Fawkes Day, is celebrated in many nations because the king was saved.
The main characters of this historical novel are Kate Peach and Francis Quoynt. Kate lost her family to the plague and makes gloves for a living. Francis is a firemaster who wishes only to make fireworks, but who is drawn into a world of espionage and treachery. His life as a spy puts both Kate and his father's lives in peril.
As I mentioned earlier, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The time period was a new one for me and I learned many interesting bits of history as they were richly woven into a fascinating story. I did some internet delving to learn more and to answer some of my questions, such as, why wasn't James I a protestant if his mother was Queen Mary of Scotland, a Catholic?
I also needed to know if Dickason had written anything else as I am most eager to read more of her work. My search was rewarded. She has also written a second novel The Princepessa set in Jacobean England that feactures Francis Quoynt. Oh, YAY! I am thrilled to be able to continue reading about Francis and his plight at the hands of Robert Cecil, Secretary of State to King James. It's on order - Merry Christmas to me! Dickason has also written a trilogy that begins with The Lady Tree, which is a 17th centruy romantic financial thriller based on a real but incredible 17th century craze for speculating in tulip bulbs. I have already ordered that first book as the title and subject matter are appealing to me and I am quite besot with Dickason's writing.
Check out Christie Dickason's website to learn more about her and her books. Let me say, too, that I think Harper's selection of historical novels is wonderful. I've read several (5 or 6) and have enjoyed everyone. I'm going to pay attention to books that have that little red seal in the lower right corner of the cover.