Book Review: A Noble Cunning: The Countess and the Tower by Patricia Bernstein (four stars)
“I would see acres of valiant man slaughtered and young King James drowned in the English Channel if it meant you would come back to me.”
Excellent historical fiction; especially for Bernstein’s first novel. Extraordinary and extraordinarily literate characters. Many historical and cultural connections pull the reader deeply into that time and place.
“I have absolute faith that we can save you, but if you have already given up, we can do nothing for you. All I ask is that you fight for yourself!”
That era’s anti-Catholic sentiment is the warp of the tale. The weft the true story of the historic Winifred Herbert Maxwell, Countess of Nithsdale. In most particulars the narrative follows the actual history, even to some details. Why then, did Bernstein change the lady’s identity? (Don’t read her story; it tells all.)
“All other things to their destruction draw, Only our love hath no decay.” John Dunne
Appropriate epigrams open each chapter. Awkward Italics font impedes reading.
“It was all so long ago and far away and had possibly happened to some ancestor of mine, in a previous era.”
(Full disclosure: Got ARC free in exchange for an honest review.)