My #BookReview of This Rough Ocean by @annswinfen English Civil War #HistFic #wwwblogs

This Rough OceanThis Rough Ocean by Ann Swinfen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This Rough Ocean is historical fiction and set during the English Civil War. It begins in 1648 at a point when Cromwell’s supporters and soldiers take over leadership of the country by force.

This book is about John Swynfen and his wife Ann. John is a representative in the House of Commons, he seeks peace between the warring factions, but finds himself arrested when Cromwell’s New Model Army seize control of London. He spends a year imprisoned; suffering torture, neglect and is on the brink of death, all because he refuses to weaken and agree to support Cromwell.

John’s wife Ann, is heavily pregnant, but escapes London with her children and servants before she is used as a porn in the war. After a premature birth of her daughter, she arrives at the Staffordshire home of John’s parents. Expecting to be welcomed and comforted, she is shocked to find both in-laws bedridden, the estate looted and almost in ruin.

Ann’s only answer is to take charge and step into the male role, find food to keep them from starving, and turn the place around. Many refuse to deal with her because she is a women, but she wins around the servants and her strength comes from her one hope that John will, one day, return.

I chose to read this book from a verbal recommendation and I really enjoyed it, the details of the everyday life took the reader right into the storyline. We followed both John and Ann’s struggle to survive in two different threads which worked well; I was equally interested in both their dilemmas. Added historical details about the times were a delight; like the remedy for a bloated cow, methods of dealing with blight in cereal crops and the burning of moss from apple trees. I was even interested in goal fever and the mental effects of isolation and hunger faced by John during his imprisonment.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in excellent historical fiction or the plight of families during the English Civil war.

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Book Description

It is December, 1648, and England faces one of the greatest crises in its history. Bands of renegade soldiers and broken men roam the countryside, looting, burning and raping. In Parliament, former allies are torn apart after six years of bloody conflict. Will there be peace instead of war, or a military take-over of the country? John Swynfen, a rising young MP and one of the leaders of the moderate party, is working for peace, but only if safeguards can be established to protect Parliament and control the powers of the king. Ranged against him and his friends are Oliver Cromwell and his son-in-law Henry Ireton, intent on seizing power by the sword and destroying not only the monarchy but the elected government. Within a few weeks, London is occupied by Cromwell’s army, parliamentary government is in ruins, the king is executed. And John Swynfen is a prisoner.

Anne Swynfen travels home from Westminster to Staffordshire with her young children through a desperate winter. There, uncertain whether she will ever see her husband again, she takes charge of the large estate, where starvation looms due to bad harvests, and violent danger threatens from outlaws and the armies of both sides. While she struggles against prejudice to do a man’s job, John is shot, beaten, shackled, humiliated and tortured. Tempted by golden promises if he recants, threatened with death if he does not, he tries to cling to his sanity and his beliefs. When he finally escapes, he begins a terrible journey home across war-torn England to find his wife.

This is a story about keeping faith – many kinds of faith – in the face of terror, anguish and despair.

About the author

Ann Swinfen

Ann Swinfen spent her childhood partly in England and partly on the east coast of America. She read Classics and Mathematics at Oxford, where she married a fellow undergraduate, the historian David Swinfen. While bringing up their five children and studying for an MSc in Mathematics and a BA and PhD in English Literature, she had a variety of jobs, including university lecturer, translator, freelance journalist and software designer.
She served for nine years on the governing council of the Open University and for five years worked as a manager and editor in the technical author division of an international computer company, but gave up her full-time job to concentrate on her writing, while continuing part-time university teaching. In 1995 she founded Dundee Book Events, a voluntary organisation promoting books and authors to the general public.
Her first three novels, The Anniversary, The Travellers, and A Running Tide, all with a contemporary setting but also an historical resonance, were published by Random House, with translations into Dutch and German. Her fourth novel, The Testament of Mariam, marked something of a departure. Set in the first century, it recounts, from an unusual perspective, one of the most famous and yet ambiguous stories in human history. At the same time it explores life under a foreign occupying force, in lands still torn by conflict to this day. Her latest novel, Flood, is set in the fenlands of East Anglia during the seventeenth century, where the local people fought desperately to save their land from greedy and unscrupulous speculators.
She now lives on the northeast coast of Scotland, with her husband (formerly vice-principal of the University of Dundee), a cocker spaniel and two Maine Coon cats.

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Traitor’s Knot by @CryssaBazos English Civil War #HistFic #Romance @EndeavourPress ‏

Traitor's KnotTraitor’s Knot by Cryssa Bazos
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Traitor’s Knot is a historical romance set during the English Civil War. It opens with a scene from the Battle of Naseby which took place in 1645. Cromwell’s Roundheads are set to take victory as Royalist Captain James Hart is unhorsed, his only chance of escape to change into the clothes of a dead Roundhead.

Elizabeth Seton lives in Weymouth. She comes from a family of healers, but now the war is over, their family is still tainted from the time their father took up arms against Cromwell’s men. Desperate not to be taken under the wing of her brother-in-law, Elizabeth asks if her aunt will take her in. Aunt Isabel, a healer, lives near Warwick, and offers shelter for those in need via a secret resistance known as The Knot. Elizabeth’s arrival in Warwick creates quite a stir when her carriage is held up by a highwayman and it isn’t long before a new constable comes to the area to help restore order and end any plots to overthrow Cromwell.

With the war over James Hart now works as an osier at a local Warwick Inn, always ready and waiting for a chance to support the true King and defeat the New Model Army. Recognised by Elizabeth from a previous meeting, James finds her attractive and she soon finds herself stuck between a despicable rogue and the new county constable, both vying for her attention.

I liked the setting of this book it is a period of history which interests me. The Civil War and the years of Cromwell’s iron rule were always going to test a country used to being ruled by monarchy. It is easy to believe the tale spun around the characters in the book; pockets of Royalists supporters creating trouble, looking for opportunities to undermine Cromwell and his men, were a common problem.

The second half of the book revolves around the attempt by Charles (II) to invade England with the help of the Scots. James puts together a band of men who head to Scotland to join Charles, whilst Elizabeth must fend for herself against the unwanted advances of Hammond and his godly visions. I must admit that I enjoyed the threads surrounding Elizabeth and the everyday people more than the historical battles. I particularly liked the secrecy which surrounded The Knot and would have been happy if this had been a larger part of the book.

This is a well put together debut novel which I am happy to recommend to readers who like their romance with a good dose of realistic historical fiction.

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Book Description

England 1650: Civil War has given way to an uneasy peace in the year since Parliament executed King Charles I.
Royalist officer James Hart refuses to accept the tyranny of the new government, and to raise funds for the restoration of the king’s son, he takes to the road as a highwayman.
Elizabeth Seton has long been shunned for being a traitor’s daughter. In the midst of the new order, she risks her life by sheltering fugitives from Parliament in a garrison town. But her attempts to rebuild her life are threatened, first by her own sense of injustice, then by falling in love with the dashing Hart.
The lovers’ loyalty is tested through war, defeat and separation. James must fight his way back to the woman he loves, while Elizabeth will do anything to save him, even if it means sacrificing herself.
Traitor’s Knot is a sweeping tale of love and conflicted loyalties set against the turmoil of the English Civil War.

About the author

Cryssa Bazos

I am a historical fiction writer and 17th Century enthusiast, with a particular interest in the English Civil War (ECW). I blog about English history and storytelling at my blog, the 17th Century Enthusiast, and I’m an editor of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog site.

My debut novel, Traitor’s Knot, a romantic tale of adventure set during the English Civil War. Traitor’s Knot is the first in a series of adventures spanning from the ECW to the Restoration and is now available from Endeavour Press.

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