Written in Their Stars: The Lydiard Chronicles 1649-1664

Written by Elizabeth St. John
Review by Susan McDuffie

1649: The beheading of King Charles I tears the Apsley family apart. Luce Apsley Hutchinson, who encouraged her husband John to sign the order for the king’s execution, feels proud that a new order has arisen, one without the excess and inequalities of the old royal court. Yet her brother Allen, married to Frances, stakes his fortunes with the exiled court of Charles II. Cousin Nan Wilmot, also a secret Royalist sympathizer, fights to secure her children’s future under the new regime while she enlists Frances as part of a spy network, sending information from England to Europe to benefit the Royalists. Despite their political differences, the family remains bound together by love. But even strong family loyalty can be tested as political allegiances pull family members poles apart.

This is the third volume of the Lydiard Chronicles, based on Elizabeth St. John’s own family history. The story is primarily told from the alternating viewpoints of Luce, Frances, and Nan. Despite my not having read the previous two volumes, it still proved relatively easy to pick up the narrative. Elizabeth St. John brings the period of Cromwell’s rule to life. The family saga is engrossing, and the theme of family ties tested by political views is one that readers may find meaningful in our own times. The personalities and characters of the close-knit family ring true.

Although it might not be necessary to have read the previous volumes to enjoy this book, reading the complete trilogy could likely prove irresistible to lovers of family sagas. Recommended.