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Crown and Sceptre A West Country Story   By: (1831-1909)

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Crown and Sceptre A West Country Story by George Manville Fenn is a beautifully crafted historical novel that will transport readers into the heart of the 17th century English countryside. Set against the backdrop of the English Civil War, this book offers a captivating and vivid account of life during a time of political upheaval and social change.

The story follows the lives of the Ashley family, who find themselves caught in the turmoil of the civil war. Through their eyes, we witness the struggles, sacrifices, and triumphs of both the Royalists and the Parliamentarians. Fenn’s meticulous attention to detail breathes life into the historical setting, allowing readers to immerse themselves in the sights, sounds, and smells of the West Country.

One of the strengths of this novel is Fenn’s ability to develop compelling and multi-dimensional characters. From the headstrong and passionate Winifred Ashley to the valiant and honorable Sir John Grenville, each character is carefully crafted and adds depth to the narrative. Their hopes, dreams, and fears are wonderfully portrayed, making it easy for readers to relate to their desires and struggles.

Furthermore, Fenn’s descriptive prose is simply breathtaking. His vivid imagery brings the West Country to life, painting a vivid picture of the lush landscapes, bustling market towns, and grand manors. With every page, readers will feel as though they were actually there, experiencing the beauty and hardships of the era.

While the novel primarily focuses on the historical events, it also delves into universal themes such as love, loyalty, and honor. The love story between Winifred and the dashing Royalist officer Edward Markham is skillfully interwoven with the larger narrative, adding a touch of romance and emotional depth to the overall plot.

One minor criticism of the book is that the pacing can be slow at times. Fenn devotes ample time to the exposition and intricate historical details, which may not appeal to readers who prefer a faster-paced narrative. However, it is worth noting that this attention to detail ultimately enhances the authenticity and richness of the story.

In conclusion, Crown and Sceptre A West Country Story by George Manville Fenn is a captivating historical novel that seamlessly blends history and fiction. With its well-developed characters, mesmerizing descriptions, and engaging plot, this book is a must-read for fans of historical fiction. Fenn’s storytelling prowess shines through, making this a remarkable and memorable journey into the past.

First Page:

Crown and Sceptre, a West Country Story, by George Manville Fenn.

I groaned a bit when I saw that this story was about the Civil War in England, in the mid seventeenth century. But I soon realised that it was a very good story, told in the tension laden Fenn style.

We start off in the Devon coombes (valleys near the sea) with two families that are close friends. The Markhams live at The Hall, while the Forresters live at The Manor. There are two teenage boys: Scarlett Markham and Fred Forrester. The boys come upon secret passages and secret chambers in the Hall, and also some other long forgotten shafts and wells leading to the outside.

Then came the Civil War, in which the Roundheads fought for a country subservient to Parliament, while the Cavaliers fought for the King. The Markhams and their household became Cavaliers, while the Forresters were Roundheads. Thus the two families became, at least in theory, deadly enemies. Needless to say, it didn't always work out exactly like that, and the boys at least, now young officers, and the family retainers, sometimes helped one another in ways the fathers would not approve of.

The manor is burnt down, and Sir Godfrey Markham very seriously wounded. It is only by Scarlett's knowledge of the secret passages that he is saved... Continue reading book >>

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