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Reviewed by Lucinda E Clarke for Readers' Favorite
Written in Their Stars by Elizabeth St. John is the third book in a trilogy that recounts the earlier history of her own family. It begins when John Hutchinson signs the execution order for the death of Charles I. Luce and John are closely related to Nan Wilmot and Frances Apsley, both ardent Royalists. While Frances and her husband Allen cross the channel to the court in the Louvre to support Charles’ son in exile, Nan heads up a network of spies providing safety and comfort for Royalists who attempt to reinstate the Royal family in London. While family ties are both strong and loving, their political views set them on opposing paths. But Charles’s invasion fails and Cromwell begins to act more king than parliamentarian, earlier beliefs are shattered, and the lines of loyalty become blurred. Old grudges are brought to the surface as Charles II is welcomed back and new stars rise as old influencers fade.
I was delighted to find this book to review as it brought to life many things I did not know about the Stuarts in exile and I wish I had read the first two books in the trilogy. Elizabeth St. John’s characters are vivid, the dialogue realistic and the reader is transported to London, Paris and rural England in the mid 17th century. It’s the product of extensive research and attention to detail. I was especially fascinated to learn of the court in exile, which was neither glamorous nor comfortable. Without giving away any spoilers, the latter part of the book and the trials endured by John Hutchinson were particularly heartrending and the machinations of the women of the era who utilized every skill at their disposal in a time when they had no official representation were superb. You can’t help but admire their tenacity, their wit and their intelligence. These characters are real people who lived and whose story has been faithfully told. They will live with me for a long time. A fantastic book that I will read again. Five stars from me.