Thursday, February 21, 2013

Book Review: After Mary By Katharine McMahon

I can't really remember why I decided to read this book but I do not regret it! This is the first book on my a-z list that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I think it must have been the book summary at the back cover that made me want to read it, on the back it says:
Seventeenth-century England is a turbulent country, rife with treachery and violence, where persecuted Catholics flee for their lives, mass is said secretly in attic rooms and a plot is hatched to kill the King.

In London, young Isabel Stanhope leads a double life. Her father, a favoured courtier of James I, expects her to marry a distant cousin, the gloriously elusive Francis Bourne. But during the tense summer of 1605, Isabel is sent to stay with her devoutly Catholic grandmother. One morning, she witnesses the arrival of a stranger, the charismatic priest Peter Carisbroke, and falls immediately under his spell.

Isabel - torn between duty and a young woman's passionate, but forbidden, longing - struggles to make her choice. Eager for experience and love, she sets out on a journey which takes her from the temptations of Jacobean London to a Europe torn apart by war. But has Isabel made the right decision? Has she really followed her heart?

In this sumptuous, enthralling novel, Katharine McMahon portrays a fascinating world of self-sacrifice, betrayal and intrigue, where the consequences of love turn life upside-down.

The story is amazing, it is split into four parts, Powder (1605), Mary Mary (1609), Galloping Girls (1617) and Praxedes (1621). It follows the journey of Isabel, through her struggles with faith and other struggles. It has historical accurate characters which give the story the reality it need and Katherine McMahon managed to grab my mind and I actually looked up a lot of the characters just so I could know more about them.
"Men's heads. From ragged skin waved hair and beards, in place of lips were gaping grins and tatty lumps of flesh dangled from severed necks. People stared up, fascinated." Page 74
This quote demonstrates the only thing that annoyed me with this book, Isabel father is always mentioned as Sir William, but all of a sudden just in this quote he is mentioned as Stanhope, it took me awhile to realize that Sir William was Stanhope.  
"Her attention had drifted away from him but she awoke abruptly to the realization that she was in danger. Stanhope's hatred for Thomasina was shocking. Crossing the carriage with a spring he sat beside Isabel so that his weight on her huge skirt pinned her to the seat. His hand came up and plucked at her face, pinching the flesh of her cheek between thumb and finger. 'Where did you go yesterday?'" Page 96 
"Praxedes was easy to read. She had a way of making herself significant by assuming insignificance. Her smiles were rare and she skimmed from place to place like a shadow. To make time for more prayer, she slept only two hours a night and the flaming hair that always escaped just a little from her cap was a poignant and beautiful contrast to her huge green eyes and fragile white skin" Page 195 
As I said before, I really liked this book. The characters grabbed me and I got to see how they grew and evolved before my eyes! Amazing!

Have you read any good books lately?

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