Escape from France (Carey Novels)

Written by Ronald Welch

1791. Richard Carey is young, good-looking, rich – and can be shockingly rude. The only things he enjoys at Cambridge are fencing and shooting, so he’s delighted when his father, the Earl of Aubigny, summons him home to Wales. The situation in France is dangerous, says the earl. Richard is to sail to Normandy to bring back his cousins, the Marquise de Vernaye and her son, Armand, and daughter, Louise. Richard is incredulous: France is a civilized country. He imagines it will be an easy jaunt and refuses to take it seriously.

But things in France are far more dangerous than he can imagine and Richard will have to grow up fast if he is to survive – for, though he does not know it, he, too, has enemies in France. The Terror has begun and the Marquis has been arrested in Paris. First he must get the Marquise and Louise safely onto the sloop to Wales. Then he and Armand will go to Paris and rescue the Marquis. It sounds easy, but Richard will need every ounce of luck, courage and endurance, if he is to succeed.

This rip-roaring adventure goes off like a rocket; it is so exciting that, in places, I scarcely dared breathe. Welch is very good at getting across the grime, tension and unpredictability of Revolutionary Paris. It is a city ruled as much by bribery and corruption as by revolutionary law, and that means that there are also opportunities for enrichment for those not over-burdened by moral scruples.

And, as is usual with Ronald Welch, (unlike, say, G. A. Henty) women are superfluous to requirements. He is deeply attracted to his beautiful cousin, Louise; nevertheless, she gets no more than a couple of lines. William Stobbs’ vigorous illustrations perfectly complement the text. A terrific read.

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