Forged in the Fire

Written by Ann Turner
Review by Val Loh

This captivating story is the sequel to No Shame, No Fear. It works as a stand-alone book relating the story of William and Susanna, who share a faith and a love but who need to separate before they can marry. William ventures to London, seeking his financial independence. There he works in a ‘Friend’s’ bookshop whilst Susanna waits for him in Shropshire until he is established and they can be together at last.

The story is beautifully written, painting an accurate and atmospheric picture of the life and times of 17th-century London. The two characters follow their hearts, religion and destiny against a dramatic backdrop of plague, political and religious bias, plague and fire. The book has the emotional power of the strength of love and survival; overcoming hardship, illness, separation and pride.

William is arrested for meeting with fellow Quakers and falls ill in jail. He is rescued from death, unlike his friends, by a rich member of his faith. In his friend’s home he rediscovers his health and discovers temptation. Susanna travels to London to join him and discovers how much has happened to change their initial plans and threaten the marriage they are both committed to.

The story cleverly follows their individual viewpoint in alternate chapters. This gives a clear insight into Susanna’s and William’s own emotions, the culture and religious framework with which they live, and how events unfold along their own journeys. The impact and reality of plague and fire are seen through their eyes and described in a convincing language for the era.

I found this a very absorbing and touching book, which will bring this dramatic time in London’s history alive for young readers today.