Tested by Fate

Written by David Donachie
Review by Pat Maynard

Second of a “trilogy-in-the-making,” this novel delves deeper into the lives of Horatio Nelson, one of England’s greatest naval heroes, and Emma Hamilton, his notorious mistress. As Nelson’s star continues to rise in the Royal Navy, he meets and is immediately attracted to Lady Emma Hamilton, wife of the British ambassador at Naples. His attraction turns out to be mutual. After a brief, intimate encounter between the two, a French man-of-war is sighted, and Nelson and his crew leave Naples in pursuit. A married man, raised by a strict clergyman father, Nelson torments himself over his attraction to Lady Hamilton and vows, from that point on, to remain faithful to his wife. As we all know, though, promises are much easier made than kept. When Nelson returns to Naples five years later and evacuates the royal family and their entourage from advancing French troops and Neapolitan sympathizers, he and Emma are reunited once again – and both of their lives are forever changed.

The author’s research into the lives of Horatio Nelson and Lady Hamilton is in-depth and impressive, as are his numerous depictions of Nelson’s sea battles during the timespan covered. The combination of the two portray well the tumultuous times of the Napoleonic wars and their far-reaching consequences into the lives of so many. I look forward to the concluding novel of this trilogy. Highly recommended.