By Love Divided

The Lydiard Chronicles

Fiction - Historical - Personage
379 Pages
Reviewed on 12/16/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Ankita Shukla for Readers' Favorite

By referring to entries in the diary of her ancestor, Lucy, and other family members, Elizabeth St. John has recreated a beautiful story of love, family values, and empowered women in By Love Divided: The Lydiard Chronicles. After the tragic death of her husband, Lucy Apsley is left alone to raise her four children: Allen, Luce, James, and Barbara. With a delay in the hearing of probate of her late husband, Lucy's troubles appear to be endless. As she fights to get what is rightfully hers, there is a man who promises her love and support. Ignoring her instincts, she marries the man and suffers the consequences. Amidst all these troubles, there is a political storm in the background that will force her beloved children to stand against each other. Would the love that she instilled in her children bring them back together?

By Love Divided: The Lydiard Chronicles flows beautifully. There is no rush in the storytelling. Elizabeth St. John familiarizes readers with the characters of this historical fiction. Lucy's children have different personalities; they challenge one another, yet their love binds them together. The intellectual debates among the characters were my favorite since they shed a brilliant light on the diverse perspectives of the people of those days. Although I was supporting parliament right from the beginning of the conflict, Allen's insight into the royalist cause helped develop an understanding of the other side.

Luce is my favorite character. I must commend the author for the profound conversations that she has written for her. Luce is opinionated and intelligent. Her words are her power, which she uses to voice her beliefs without fearing the audience. Barbara's fun spirit shone brightly, even when the plot was heavy with civil war. I could go on and on about the magnificent characters and the excellent execution of the author, but I do not wish to give away any spoilers. In short, reading By Love Divided: The Lydiard Chronicles by Elizabeth St. John has been a pleasure. I learned a lot about that time of history when royals went head-on against parliament.

Heather Stockard

The year is 1642. England teeters on the edge of war, torn between discontented Puritans and a king who refuses to be dictated to by Parliament. The Apsley family is caught in the middle. Widowed Lady Lucy Apsley finds her children pulled in different directions as the conflict escalates. Her son, Allen, is a staunch royalist, loyal both to King Charles and his father’s memory. Her daughter and namesake, Luce, is married to Parliamentarian John Hutchinson and holds radical views herself. Impending poverty and social unrest force Lady Apsley to make impossible choices but worse is ahead. No one will escape this revolution unscathed, and no matter what happens, her family and country will be changed forever.

By Love Divided, by Elizabeth St. John, is a beautifully written novel that tells the story of the real Apsley family and their experiences during the English Civil war. St. John has done a phenomenal job researching and writing this book. She expertly captures the tense atmosphere and uncertainty of the time and perfectly conveys the personalities of each of the characters. She makes them relatable and understandable and humanizes the people on both sides of the divide, even King Charles and his young son. There is an emotional depth to all of them that brings them to life. Her descriptions are vivid and effective, drawing the reader into the 17th century. Whether you are an English history buff or just a lover of fantastic historical fiction, this book is a must-read.

K.C. Finn

By Love Divided is a seventeenth-century historical work of fiction for adults and was penned by Elizabeth St. John. The book forms a part of the Lydiard Chronicles series of novels and is based on the records and testimony of the author’s own family, and how they survived during the English Civil War. The book tells the story of the rising tensions in a family living in a country moving closer and closer to civil unrest. As the tensions between crown and parliament rise, Lucy St. John is faced with a daughter falling in love with a Parliamentarian and a son enlisting with the cavaliers in order to fight for his king.

Having recently read another seventeenth-century novel by the same author, I am once again totally impressed by the historical accuracy and the level of atmosphere and realism which Elizabeth St. John puts into her work. It’s clear to see from this tale the attachment to her family and ancestry that the author holds, which is lovingly displayed, but also intelligently portrayed as the real emotional and political struggle that it was. Lucy is a superb character with a balanced set of qualities, and her plight calls for sympathy from all corners as the country falls apart around her. The children and their continuing dramas present great opportunities for intelligent dialogue, heightened action, and political intrigue too. Overall, By Love Divided marks another superb work in The Lydiard Chronicles: a compelling historical fiction drama series by a superbly talented author.