The Pearl of York, Treason and Plot by Tony Morgan – a #BookReview – #HistoricalFiction

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Blurb:

The Pearl of York by Tony MorganThe gripping new historical novel set in atmospheric Tudor York.
Winner of the Coffee Pot Book Club Highly Recommended award – “A heartbreaking book that grabs you from the first page and does not let you go until the last full-stop. I cannot praise this book enough. It was absolutely brilliant from beginning to end. This is an example of Historical Fiction at its most exquisite.”

When Margaret Clitherow is arrested for illegally harbouring Catholic priests, her friends, led by a youthful Guy Fawkes, face a race against time to save her from the gallows. As events unfold, their lives, and our history, change forever.

What events could persuade a happily married woman to become a martyr or transform a young man into a terrorist?

My Thoughts

Guy Fawkes didn’t set out to be an explosive expert, nor Mistress Margaret Clitherow a martyr. Nor did either begin life as a Catholic, but life, experience, and events have a way of unfolding an inexorable path down which we seem to be drawn. This storyline doesn’t focus on Guy Fawkes and his later exploits that eventually got him caught but it is while he is being tortured that he reverts to the narration of his life to divert himself from the pain to the path that diverged with Mistress Clitherow.

In Tudor York, England is in the midst of a major change of reigning churches and seeing a dissolution from the Roman Catholic Church and the Papists. It has now become a treasonable offense to remain Catholic and suddenly those who practice the “old religion” must do so in privacy, careful not to reveal their true allegiance. AND, anyone caught harboring a priest or the religious were quickly brought up on the same stiff penalties as those caught performing Mass.

In a well-researched and plotted account of the story of St. Margaret Clitherow, the author weaves a plausible account of young Guy being expelled from school for fighting with the town bully and the discovery of his mother sneaking out to Mass held in a deeply secreted space under and behind the residence of Margaret Clitherow. She has a reputation for kindness, thoughtfulness, and generosity. Her husband is the neighborhood butcher, a Protestant, and elevated in social standing. But one night, after Guy accompanies his mother to Mass, the house is raided and one of the two priests is caught. Not long after, Mistress Clitherow is also arrested.

The trial being a sham, not difficult to imagine she’ll be sentenced to death. The form of her punishment, however, is said to be shaped by how she’ll plea. And she does not. Will not. She is caught between a rock and a hard place. Anything she admits to would only trickle down and cause untold suffering to not only her family but many others as well. In addition, she will not denounce her Catholic faith, revert to the Church of England. She appears to have no equitable way to save her own life and resolutely resigns herself to a death she didn’t realize would be quite such a horrendous, hideous, extremely torturous way to die. Still, she has no real choice. It seems beyond reason that humans could devise such a brutal execution.

The author has done a tremendous job of bringing a stinging history to light and creating a plausible explanation for her sacrifice as well as the lasting effects her death and the later death of Guy’s own family has on the course his life will take. Fawkes’s life left an indelible mark in the history of England as well.

If I had any quibbles, it was the subtle changes of Guy’s retrospective to his current circumstances on the rack. Utterly engaging tale of suspicion, betrayal, brutality, survival, and faith. Deeply emotional and sympathetic characters, barbaric instruments, descriptions of Tudor streets vibrant with the sounds and fetid smells of crowded city life. Thoroughly entertaining, captivating prose.

“Abundance of knowledge does not teach men to be wise.”

“Mistress Clitherow…she’s a pearl inside this monstrous oyster.”

We received this digital download from the author in the expectation of a review and these are our own opinions. Wholly recommended.

His Thoughts

The Pearl of York by Tony MorganThis author opened my eyes to the reason for western migration to the Americas in the 17th century. The Reformation period developed large schisms within the European countries. The Church of England was replacing the Roman Catholic Church and it became a treasonable offense to remain Catholic. Trials were held throughout Great Britain for those who practiced the old faith or harbored priests. Priests that did not renounce their faith were subjected to terrible pain and ultimately killed.

Mistress Margaret Clitherow is one of these unfortunates. She resided in York and was held in great esteem by the local populace. However, she was caught attending clandestine Catholic masses. It would have been easy to save her own life, simply renounce her faith and embrace the Protestant Church of England. For a staunch catholic this would mean saving her life but going to hell. She is a young and affable lady caught in a martyr’s quandary. She will not give up her faith.

The main character, young Guy Fawkes, is determined to save her. He and a local priest as well as a Protestant minister set out to accomplish that task. The fervor within the area is to trap and bring to justice those who have not renounced their faith.

Some of the methods for punishing the holdouts are particularly gruesome.

Priests who are caught were usually hung, drawn and quartered. The spectacle was available for the entertainment of the population. Trying to rescue those who practiced the faith was also a treasonable event.

This book is well written and mesmerizing in the telling. I wondered how Martin Luther and the others who began the Reformation must have felt. The tithes received by the church would be kept in the countries who altered their faith. The faithful paid the ultimate price for the changes to the faith and the dissolution of the Roman Catholic faith in the various countries. CE Williams

I highly recommend this book to those who cherish their faith and embrace the sacrifice made by those who suffered the ultimate for their beliefs. This author captures the sentiment of the period in the telling. 5 stars CE Williams

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Book Details:

Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller
ASIN: B0852P7RPV
Print Length: 237 pages
Publication Date: March 1, 2020
Source: Direct Author Request
Title Link(s): The Pearl of York [Amazon]

Tony Morgan - authorThe Author: [Goodreads] Tony Morgan is a Welsh author living in Yorkshire in the UK, near to the birth place of Guy Fawkes.

His books have been described as a perfect read for lovers of the works of C.J. Sansom and S. J. Parris and anyone interested in how historic events have shaped our own times.

In addition to writing novels, Tony gives history on topics such as Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot and the life of Margaret Clitherow.

[Find Tony Morgan on his website here.]

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

The Dog on the Acropolis by Mark Tedesco – a #BookReview – #timetravel

The Dog on the Acropolis by Mark TedescoBook Blurb:

A family living in Greece at the time of the construction of the Parthenon and another family, thousands of years later, eking out a living at the base of the Acropolis.

The repercussions of the meeting of man and dog would unfold in unforeseen ways that would impact the lives around them.

The narrative takes the reader to Greece’s Golden Age, in which one dog, Daria, would scamper up the hill to keep up with Adelino, a stonecutter working on the new temple, and his son Tiro. The lives of Pheidias, the architect of the Parthenon, Adelino and Diana his wife, as well as Tiro their son, would intersect in unexpected ways.

The story brings then brings the reader back into the present where past and present eventually coincide, transforming the lives of both canines and humans.

My Review:

As most who read my blog know I’m a sucker for a dog story and this one taps into that mysterious corner of the dog’s mind that we would all love to tap. We know there must be more in there than, “ball, ball, throw the ball,” or “food, food, I’m hungry.” In this book, we get the full chimichanga–a dog that taps into his very, very early ancestor. Here in his present day, he dreams of the experiences of the Golden Age of Greece that now drive his life and his mood.

The Dog on the Acropolis by Mark TedescoDraco is a stray (black lab) that lives at the Acropolis present day. He sleeps on the steps of the Parthenon, running down into the village during the day to make his rounds. Each of the humans he seeks fulfills a need, from food, to water, to bathing (of which he seems to get more than his share), and companionship and protection.

The Plaka is a tourist area bustling with cafes and all manner of touristy shops, most owned by generations of shopkeepers. High on Draco’s list of generous shopowners are Akil, Alexander, and Cynarra. Akil is a baker struggling with his son until his son Jason notices the dog that has adopted his dad.

But Draco is a stray and he cherishes his freedom. He has a job to do and he takes it very seriously. He guides tourists up the hill to the Acropolis. His dreams recall his ancestor Daria, a small female, who befriends Adelino, a stonecutter. He has a twelve year old that would love to work with his father and is thrust into the position of breadwinner when Adelino befalls a horrific accident and is bedridden for some time. Tiro willingly finds a position with Pheidias, the architect of the Parthenon, which will house a monstrous statue of the goddess Athena.

While the dogs are centuries apart, they both create a bond with their humans and the shared bond extends through their human base of friends–bringing them all closer together. I enjoyed the canine characteristics that lovingly enlarge the circle of companions. The things we love about dogs don’t appear to change over the centuries. They are still sensitive to human needs and nuances, providing the touch of calm understanding that their human counterparts appear to crave.

The premise is a good one but hampered a bit by the daily routine which varies little and soon becomes oft-repeated slowing the storyline. The chapters regarding the stonecutter and his family open another time and existence enlightening the human struggle for survival at the time. The dialogue is fairly simplistic and several times bounce between the present and the ancient creating momentary confusion. While there is a passage of time, little changes other than the children are getting older and Cynarra manages to break from her parent’s flower shop to go to a UK university. (She was expected to take over the shop while her brothers went their separate ways.) There are a few inconsistencies, making me wonder if I’d remembered something incorrectly last scene. Draco seemed to subsist on hand-outs of bread and cheese, only getting a mention of dry dog food near the end.

The conclusion, while sad, reinforces the theme of love, devotion, loyalty, and compassion and pointedly noted the inadvertent gift of canine to humans. A unique and well-plotted narrative, I appreciated receiving a copy in expectation of a review. These are my own opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Academia Publications

  • ISBN-10:0578214369
  • ISBN-13:978-0578214368
  • ASIN: B07T24YHSL

Print Length: 199 pages
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: The Dog on the Acropolis

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Mark Tedesco - authorThe Author: Mark Tedesco is a published author and history teacher in Los Angeles. He was born in California but lived for many years in Europe. There he developed a unique perspective which is apparent in his teaching and writing.

His first book “That Undeniable Longing – My Road to and from the Priesthood” is a memoir of his sojourn in Rome in a Vatican seminary leading to ordination. Readers have been taken aback by his honesty and integrity in recounting his journey. His account continues as he eventually decided to leave the priesthood in order to be “true to himself”.

His second book is “Loving Hoping Believing – Poetry to Live By”. Poetry comes alive here as the words express the love possible between two persons, the joy of being united, the anguish of loss and the hope of fulfillment.

After eight years of research, Mark’s work of historical fiction draws the reader into an experience of Ancient Rome. “I am John, I am Paul: A Story of Two Soldiers in Ancient Rome.” The mysterious bond between the two soldiers is intertwined with the historical events of the 4th century.

“Lessons and Beliefs: Searching for Love in the Gay World”: Since wisdom is born of reflection on experience, Mark Tedesco takes the reader on a journey as he contemplates the quest for fulfilling relationships with others and with himself.” Lessons and Beliefs: Searching for Love in the Gay World” is both self-help and memoir, giving a riveting account of love and relationships in the gay world.

Besides writing, Mark’s passions run the gamut from archeology to sports and fitness. His colleagues consider to him to be somewhat of a Renaissance man. He enjoys imparting to his students his thirst for life and happiness. This thirst, or quest, is apparent in every work Mark devotes himself to.

[Goodreads] If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?

I would travel to the ancient world, to Rome, Greece and Egypt. If I could avoid getting the Plague or dying in battle, I would enjoy the grandeur and drama of ancient civilizations and travel to see the wonders of that world. I would wander the streets of Rome and gaze up at the temples and painted statues and walk through the bazaars of Alexandria while listening to the many languages of visitors and residents. Yes, the ancient world would be where I would time travel.

©2019 V Williams V Williams