Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The English Civil War is the setting for the novel Rebels & Traitors by Lindsey Davis. The events in the novel take place between from the 1630s to the 1650s and follow the lives of printer Gideon Jukes and Juliana Lovell, whose husband is missing after a battle.

Gideon Jukes was born into a family of grocers. Unfortunately, he was the younger son, so there was no place for him in the family business. Through the intervention of an uncle, he was apprenticed to a printer. At the time, it could be dangerous work to be in the printing trade, depending on what sort of jobs you were asked to take. Eventually, Gideon becomes a partner in the printing business just as rumblings of revolt begin in the country. Gideon joins the armed London Trained Bands in support of Parliament and against the king. Meanwhile, the orphaned Juliana Carlill is married to a soldier in the Royalist service.

In addition to giving us a moving account of King Charles I's final moments, the book is a treasure trove of historical fact. There is much information about the daily lives of people during that time, as well as accounts of the people, battles and events that lead to the King's downfall. In addition, we have the love story of two characters who initially were on opposite sides of the conflict. All in all, the book is an epic saga of a turning point in English history.

I received a review copy of the book from St. Martin's Press, which in no way influenced my review.

Final verdict for Rebels & Traitors: Four Gherkins, for being a sweeping look at a turbulent time in English history

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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