A Corruptible Crown

Written by Gillian Bradshaw
Review by Jen Black

The title is a quote from Charles II’s last speech, though the king makes no appearance in the story. Chapters alternate between Lucy, heroine of Bradshaw’s previous novel London in Chains, and her husband, Jamie Hudson. It is 1648, and the Civil War has been resurrected by a king still determined to be an absolute ruler and by a parliament unable to agree how to govern without him. Blacksmith Jamie Hudson, weary and disillusioned, is forced to re-enlist, leaving his wife, Lucy, to struggle on alone in London: printing newsbooks, dodging the censors, and all the while supporting the Leveller demands for democracy and freedom, and hoping for a peace that will finally allow the two of them to be together again.

Lucy receives news of Jamie’s imminent death and immediately sets off to be with him in Colchester. From there, the believable adventures and evenly paced story roll on, bringing home to the reader along the way the privations of both soldiers and civilians in a country at war.

The writing is simple and clear, the style thoughtful rather than dramatic. The emphasis is firmly on family, friends and relationships, and even the minor characters are fully formed and a delight to read.