Dawnlands by Philippa Gregory

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  This is a distinct improvement on the two previous books in the series, with some of the plotlines moving into high politics.  One character joins Monmouth’s army, whilst another becomes a lady-in-waiting to Queen Mary Beatrice, so we get two very different angles on events.  If you want good books set during Monmouth’s Rebellion and the Glorious Revolution, I recommend Pamela Belle’s Herald of Joy and Treason’s Gift; but this one isn’t too bad.

It’s got an original take on the Bloody Assizes, with the emphasis being on prisoners who were transported being “bought” or assigned to courtiers and other wealthy individuals.   There’s a rather unlikely scenario in which a young Native American woman pretends to be a middle-aged white man and no-one appears to notice that anything’s not right; but following her transportation to Barbados and life there makes for an interesting storyline.

Being a Philippa Gregory book, it also had to include some utter nonsense relating to real events – in this case, that there was indeed a healthy male baby waiting in a warming pan in 1688, although in the end he wasn’t needed!   And that this was the work of our “Nobildonna”, rather than the Jesuits.  Incidentally, surely it’s accepted that a form of religion, whether used as a noun or as an adjective, is spelt with a capital letter at the beginning?   This book referred to “roman catholics” and “protestants”, with small letters.  Very odd.

There’s some better stuff about sugar and slavery in Barbados, which comes across quite well.  Philippa Gregory *can* write very well: it’s just a shame that some of what she writes is such twaddle.  But, as I said, this is a big improvement on the two previous books in this series.  Worth a go.

 

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