The Welsh Linnet
This is Book One of the War Without an Enemy series, set during the English Civil War. It opens in July 1642, as divisions between King Charles I and his parliamentary opponents are leading to war. It finishes in the winter of 1643, as the siege of Basing House continues. In between are stirring, accurate accounts of the battles at Edgehill and Roundway Down. The story follows the fictional fortunes of the Royalist Lucie family, focusing on the father, Sir Henry Lucie, sons Will and Harry, and daughter Elisabeth (Bess), although there is a large, varied cast. The Welsh linnet is introduced later: Gabriel Vaughan is a Royalist soldier and talented musician. He and his family secret will change Bess’s life.
The author has a historical knowledge and respect for historical integrity that are impressive. Her endnotes are helpful and explain much, but there are weaknesses in this debut. Bess Lucie’s banal, romance-novel antics cheapen the whole story. Her foolish, headstrong behavior is anachronistic, and she is often TSTL (Too Stupid To Live). Fortunately, Gabriel Vaughan is an interesting, multifaceted man with depth, and it looks as if we will see more of him in future novels.
There are troubling mechanical issues. Compound modifiers preceding a noun are almost always left open. Hyphenating them would be more conventional and make for easier reading. Scenes from Bess’s point of view are in first person, and everything else is in third, which is jarring, to say the least. Gabriel’s dramatic flashbacks fill in some backstory, but interrupt the narrative flow.
I had trouble getting through the first fifty pages of slow set-up. Then came the Battle of Edgehill, and from then on I couldn’t put the book down.