Review of ‘The Cornish Captive’ by Nicola Pryce

‘The Cornish Captive’ by Nicola Pryce is the sixth novel in her historical series set in Cornwall.  The year is 1800 and Madeleine Pelligrew has been imprisoned for the past fourteen years. Falsely accused of being insane, she has been moved from one mad house to another, until one day a man appears with papers feeing her. But she has suffered so much at the hands of men and finds it impossible to trust any of them. Can this man be trusted? 

As she hides her true identity, she attempts to find out exactly what happened all those years ago. Who was really responsible for her incarceration? The friendship of a French prisoner on parole, Captain Pierre de la Croix gives her some hope for the future – but can she believe him? Against the background of the French Revolution and its aftermath the people of Cornwall are unwittingly drawn into the actions of the secret resistance, never really knowing what side their neighbours and friends are really on.

I have always loved historical fiction, so jumped at the chance to read ‘The Cornish Captive’. Although part of a well-established series, it can easily be read as a standalone. The Cornish setting is beautifully described, with the sweeping landscapes of Cornwall an integral part of the story. The historical background of the French Revolution and the years following it, make the story all the more fascinating. Reading about such an important event from the viewpoint of the ordinary people affected made it feel more relevant. It was about more than Mme. Guillotine.

Madeleine’s story is the story of one woman, but also the story of so many women, whose lives were controlled and ruined by powerful men. I wanted to know more about this woman who had been damaged by the treatment of others and by her past. She had strength and determination and this saw her through many trials. One could not help but sympathise with her plight and also fear for her future. Could she trust Pierre de la Croix? Was he the answer to her prayers? 

This thoroughly enjoyable epic story took me through a range of emotions. Not just fear and suspicion, but love, joy and hope too. The writing was immersive and kept me hooked until the end. It left me happy, and so glad to have spent some time in Cornwall with these characters.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Do You Know Dorothy?’ by Vanda

‘Do You Know Dorothy?’ is part of a series, following the lives and loves of gay people in New York City in the fifties. We follow Al Huffman as she builds on her career and tries to save the night club she helps run with her friend Max. She still pines for her soul mate Juliana, but here she learns more about the secret world of lesbians and gay men in that era. She also finds out things about herself and how she feels comfortable as a lesbian. Not that following the ‘rules’ comes easy. 

The story was interesting from a historical perspective, in that we find out how gay people lived, and how they were treated. The fight for equal rights was in its infancy, and in this novel Vanda explores the movement through her characters. Attitudes were different, even between one minority group and another. Although there is some romance in the story, I get the feeling this will be explored more fully in the next book in the series. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Lying With Lions’ by Annabel Fielding

‘Lying With Lions’ is a historical family saga, starting in the Edwardian era. Agnes Ashford is an archivist for the Bryant family, an important and influential family, thanks in part to the money from Lady Helen’s dowry. Whilst combing through the family’s papers she uncovers a secret.  With this information she becomes invaluable to Lady Helen and her life changes for the better.  But in order to hold onto that life Agnes must make uncomfortable choices. 

I enjoyed reading about Agnes and her life, in a time where single women without family had difficult choices to make to survive. We see how society changes during the Edwardian era and into the new era of George V. The family Agnes works for has to change too. Their lives have been pampered and regimented for centuries, but the new era begins to break down the barriers between the classes. And the Bryants and Davenports were not prepared for that. The romantic elements of the story were handed well, as they were written with subtlety and a gentle touch. There’s a gothic touch to the story too and this added an extra element.

I was given this ARC for review.