St. Martin’s Press and Thomas Dunne Books
Description: Peter Ackroyd has been praised as one of the greatest living chroniclers of Britain and its people. In Rebellion, he continues his dazzling account of The History of England, beginning the progress south of the Scottish king, James VI, who on the death of Elizabeth I became the first Stuart king of England, and ending with the deposition and flight into exile of his grandson, James II.
The Stuart monarchy brought together the two nations of England and Scotland into one realm, albeit a realm still marked by political divisions that echo to this day. More importantly, perhaps, the Stuart era was marked by the cruel depredations of civil war, and the killing of a king. Shrewd and opinionated, James I was eloquent on matters as diverse as theology, witchcraft, and the abuses of tobacco, but his attitude to the English parliament sowed the seeds of the division that would split the country during the reign of his hapless heir, Charles I. Ackroyd offers a brilliant, warts-and-all portrayal of Charles’s nemesis, Oliver Cromwell, Parliament’s great military leader and England’s only dictator, who began his career as a political liberator but ended it as much of a despot as “that man of blood,” the king he executed.
England’s turbulent seventeenth century is vividly laid out before us, but so too is the cultural and social life of the period, notable for its extraordinarily rich literature, including Shakespeare’s late masterpieces, Jacobean tragedy, the poetry of John Donne and Milton and Thomas Hobbes’s great philosophical treatise, Leviathan. Rebellion also gives us a very real sense of the lives of ordinary English men and women, lived out against a backdrop of constant disruption and uncertainty.
Opening: A NEW SOLOMON: Sir Robert Carey rode furiously from London to Edinburgh along the Great North Road, spending one night in Yorkshire and another in Nortumberland; he arrived at holyrood Palace ‘be-blooded with great falls and bruises’ after a journey of over 330 miles. It was late at night on Saturday 26 March 1603.
Can you feel just how excited I was at scoring this? HUZZAH
It was almost as if Mr Ackroyd and I were cwtched up together chatting through this history on the settee rather than me curled solo around my ipad. There were parts I vaguely remembered from ‘back when’ and other succulent snippets re-visited with a chuckle, however, so many tidbits had never passed through my sphere and right from the get-go I was breathing out “cwor-blimey”s all over the place. For instance – who knew that Jimmy VI had fallen off his horse and broken his shoulder on his way down to London to be crowned as James I.
I was totally transfixed with this rendition of Charles I and The New Model Army, new light has been shone on events making me look at things in a different way.
Utterly superb and given that the archive date is set at Oct 21 2014, I can re-read.
3* Three Brothers
4* Shakespeare: The Biography
1* The Lambs of London
3* The House of Doctor Dee
3* Poe: A Life Cut Short
3* Venice: Pure City
2* The Plato Papers
5* Tudors (The History of England, #2)
3* The Fall of Troy
4* Wilkie Collins
5* The Mystery Of Charles Dickens