Forsaking All Other…
About the Book:
Love is no game for women; the price is far too high.
Bess Stoughton, waiting woman to the well-connected Lady Allingbourne, has discovered that her father is arranging for her to marry an elderly neighbour. Normally obedient Bess rebels and wrests from her father a year’s grace to find a husband more to her liking.
Edmund Wyard, a taciturn and scarred veteran of England’s campaign in Ireland, is attempting to ignore the pressure from his family to find a suitable wife as he prepares to join the Earl of Leicester’s army in the Netherlands.
Although Bess and Edmund are drawn to each other, they are aware that they can have nothing more than friendship. Bess knows that Edmund’s wealth and family connections place him beyond her reach. And Edmund, with his well-honed sense of duty, has never considered that he could follow his own wishes. Until now.
With England on the brink of war and fear of Catholic plots extending even into Lady Allingbourne’s household, time is running out for both of them.
Set in the Elizabethan end of the Tudor era, Forsaking All Other is an absorbing novel of historical fiction, examining the miniature of class and social conventions against a backdrop of Catholic reprisals. While it is in part an historical romance, it also has themes of war and political insurgence.
Bess Stoughton was a worthy heroine, brave and intelligent, railing against the control of her father and determined to at least have some say in her own future. Already widowed and having lost a child, she was certainly no simpering young maid, but rather a strong and forthright woman who was wise to the ways of the world and woman’s place within it. It was a real meeting of minds between her and Edmund Wyard and the love story that evolved between these two credible characters warmed my heart. Catherine Meyrick weaves the many issues of inequality that existed between men and women during this era into her story and highlights just how much a woman was at the mercy of her father and/or her husband. Men had the power to shape a woman’s life for the better or the worse, and sadly, despite being ruled by a Queen, woman were regarded for the most part with suspicion and largely dismissed as having no ability to think for themselves. To have a character such as Edmund at the helm of this novel was a refreshing balance to offer, as was Bess, a strong and capable woman who was unwilling to simply do her father’s bidding.
To the more sinister thread running through this novel, that of the reprisals against Catholics, the sanctioned witch hunt that terrorised ordinary English people. Fear and suspicion were justifiably ever present, and no one was immune to having doubt cast upon them. I found myself quite angry at two people within this novel: Edmund’s mother, which should come as no surprise because she was a truly awful person, entirely evil. But the other I struggled with, at first feeling great sympathy for her plight, but later cursing her selfish intentions, and this was Lucy. She made Bess an accomplice to her plans and consequently put Bess in grave danger, a fact she had to be well aware of given the nature of her intentions. She was not nearly as naive as she had intended people think her. Both of these women each created their own brand of havoc for Bess and as the tension mounted throughout the latter part of the novel, so too did my own tension – I couldn’t stop reading! I was completely captivated!
The author notes at the end of the novel indicate the amount of research that went into this novel in order to ensure authenticity and it really shows throughout the story. There was a genuine feel of being true to the era and the circumstances throughout, giving Forsaking All Other an air of credibility that I appreciated enormously. It really is an enjoyable novel and one that I highly recommend to fans of historical fiction set in the Tudor/Elizabethan era.
Thanks is extended to the author for providing me with a copy of Forsaking All Other for review.
About the Author:
Catherine Meyrick is a writer of historical fiction with a particular love of Elizabethan England. Her stories weave fictional characters into the gaps within the historical record – tales of ordinary people who are very much men and women of their time, yet in so many ways not unlike ourselves.
Although she grew up in regional Victoria, Australia, she has lived all her adult life in Melbourne. She has worked as a nurse, a tax assessor and finally a librarian. She has a Master of Arts in history and is also a family history obsessive.
Connect with Catherine at her website.
Forsaking All Other
Published by Courante Publishing
Released 12th March 2018
Available in Paperback and eBook