cover image A Far Horizon: Broken Kingdom Volume II

A Far Horizon: Broken Kingdom Volume II

Brenda Rickman Vantrease. Severn, $28.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8840-2

Set in 1643 during the English Civil War, Vantrease’s sequel to The Queen’s Promise movingly depicts the heavy toll of war on both its principal players and the ordinary people caught up in upheaval. Three women carry the main narrative: the fictional Caroline Pendleton, a young widow from a genteel background trying to survive in London; real-life Lucy Hay, the glamorous Countess of Carlisle, who juggles loyalties and lovers, including Parliamentarian John Pym, at whose deathbed she tries to provide solace in one of the novel’s most vivid scenes; and Queen Henrietta Maria herself, forced to face her growing unpopularity in her adopted country. The most emotionally affecting story line is Caroline’s, as she must draw on every bit of resourcefulness to hang on to a home throughout one of London’s grimmest periods. But also memorable is a subplot that springs from Caroline’s story: her friendship with Mary Milton, the young wife who fled an unhappy marriage to the bitter writer John Milton. In this kaleidoscope of grand, far-reaching events, the quieter moments of people struggling to adjust to fractured lives are the ones that linger. Agent: Harvey Klinger, Harvey Klinger Literary. (Feb.)