17th century historical fiction
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I enjoyed the first book in this series, Flood, so much that I began the sequel as soon as I'd finished it ~ a recommendation in itself!
Betrayal carries on where the prequel left off, as the villagers in Ann Swinfen's fictional 17th century Fenland village recover from the devastation caused by not only the weather but also the destruction of their way of life by the money men who aim to take their land for their own profit.
This episode adds another dimension to the story, as Mercy's brother Tom leaves the area after losing his leg in the troubles, feeling that he will serve them better by resuming his legal studies in London. But these are difficult times; Cromwell is now in power but the Civil War still festers, with young men being rounded up and sent to fight against their will. The story's underlying focus, though, is Tom's effort to retrieve a charter, written in the twelfth century, that granted the Fenlanders the right to live on and farm their land without interference.
Aside from being a cracking story, I loved this novel as I loved the first, for its wonderful research and description. Domestic detail in some books can be tedious, but this book shows how in the right hands it can be fascinating, such an insight into the times. I so enjoyed the chapters from Tom's point of view, about the London of the 17th century, and it fast became one of those books I wanted to actually live in!
I can't recommend these two books highly enough; historical fiction addicts will adore them. Although the communities are poor, by many standards, I saw the Fenlanders' way of life as an idyllic one; living with the land as nature intended, pulling together and supporting each other. I very much hope there is more of this terrific series to come.
FLOOD by Ann Swinfen is reviewed HERE