In 1665, the plague has swarmed over London, forcing those who are able to flee the city for the countryside. About 34 miles from London sits the village of Chalfont, where John Wesson is curate of the local church. Among its new inhabitants are the poet/writer John Milton and his young wife. A Catholic and a previous supporter of Oliver Cromwell before he was removed from leadership, Milton’s relationship with the Church of England becomes an issue with the rector of the church.
Thirty years later, when John Wesson is the church rector, John Toland wants to write a biography of Milton using Wesson’s diary from the plague years. At first Reverend Wesson balks at the idea of using his personal diary and lies to Toland about his association with Milton.
I loved the characters in this novel, especially John Milton, who displays a brilliant ability to write and edit his new project, Paradise Lost, while blind. I did not realize he favored Cromwell during the English Revolution and that he became an outcast when the country returned to a monarchy. This character-driven novel has an interesting cast of characters who are well-formed and credible for the time period. The author definitely knows his English history.