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Devil Water (2007)

Devil Water (2007)

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3.89 of 5 Votes: 5
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1556526598 (ISBN13: 9781556526596)
chicago review press

About book Devil Water (2007)

I have a love-hate relationship with this book. On the one hand, I found the story (meaning the plot and characters) fascinating, and moreso because it is based on real people and real events. I found myself looking multiple things up on Wikipedia during each sitting. And yet... it was an INCREDIBLY slow read. It kept putting me to sleep. Partly because it seemed to drag on and on - events seemed to take far more pages than needed (spoiled by the internet much?) and ... I don't know, I guess I just didn't care for the writing style. Which makes me sad, because this author has been recommended by many people. Then again, they have never recommended this book in particular, so perhaps this one isn't really representative.The story revolves around Charles Radcliffe and his daughter, Jenny. Charles is the grandson of King Charles II of England, and his older brother is the Earl of Derwentwater (translated as Devil Water) at Dilston. They are fervently Catholic in a time when England is moving quickly toward Protestantism, and are supporters (to the death!) of "The Pretender", "King James III" (in quotes, because he was never recognized as King although he was technically next in succession, but he was Catholic and there was a new-ish law preventing Catholics from taking the throne).But the story more surrounds his daughter, Jenny (Jane), who was the result of a childhood affair with a country girl named Meg, whose father forced a marriage between them when he discovered her pregnancy, of course causing a scandal in the upper class life of Charles and his family. Jenny is torn in many ways due to her mixed heritage - between country life and life as "a lady", between Catholicism and Protestantism, between life in the north country and life in London, between romantic love to a childhood companion and fixed marriage to better her status and that of her family. I cried at multiple points in her story, and ESPECIALLY a lot at the ending... I began to believe I was in love with Rob myself, and was horrified by his reaction [to a spoiler], but glad of how he 'remedied' it.And the historical details thrown in are just fascinating. I do think it's worth struggling through the writing style, but be prepared to take forever reading this. It -is- broken up into six shorter "Books" by timeline, so that gives good stopping points, where you can stop and come back to it months later like I did :)

Similar to other reviewers, I had very mixed feelings about this book. From a historical perspective, the research was impeccable, from the dialect and unique culture of 18th century Northumberland to Virginia of the early colonial period and all of the historical figures worked into the story.On the negative side, even with my familiarity with this history, I struggled to maintain interest in the first 100 pages. Many times I felt the details were excessive and severely encumbered the plot progression. I also had some trouble with the flow of the story, feeling it too broken up as it spans almost forty years and is written as six books, some with large time gaps in between. The book begins with a very detailed account of the early life of Charles Radcliffe, young brother to the 3rd Earl of Derwentwater who was executed for treason after the 1715 Jacobit uprising. The author recounts the event leading to the uprising that ended swiftly as an almost tragic comedy of errors, yet I felt almost complete emotional detachment from the main characters. When I did feel sympathy, it was more for James (the Earl) than for his reckless younger brother, but I always felt as if I were watching them with detachment, as if characters in a stage play.For the first third of the book, the author tended to jump between Charles and James and then finally moved on to Jenny (at about page 230) and centered the rest of the book on her. It felt like separate books that didn't quite mesh togerther. I liked Jenny's character very much and the love story between she and Rob was compelling. This was truly the best part of the book for me, but then it circled back around to the Jacobite intrigue with the rising of 1745 and her father's subsequent execution. I think I would have enjoyed this story more had the author decided to begin with Jenny and fill in her family background as the story progressed.For those interested in English Jacobite history, particulalry the Uprising of 1715, I enjoyed Walter Besant's Dorothy Forster, another biographical fiction that relates many of these same events through the first person narrative of Dorothy Forster, sister to General Thomas Forster, a Northumberland MP, who like Charles Radcliffe, also escaped Newgate for France. I felt Besant's account of these particular events was more emotionally engaging.

Do You like book Devil Water (2007)?

if Edgar Allan Poe were trying to write like Sir Walter Scott, he might come up with something like this. On the surface, it seems to be a very romantic, chivalrous tale, of a gallant cavalier who gives his life defending the cause of Bonnie Prince Charlie . . . and the beautiful daughter he leaves behind, who finds passion and a new start in the New World. Problem is, this is Anya Seton, and she does to romance what Jim Morrison does to the blues. Starting off with something familiar, she makes things get somehow sinister, somehow creepy, somehow twisted. Doesn't Jenny seem to spend a lot of time flirting with her dad? A lot of time . . . Isn't her rugged husband kind of an abusive jerk? Almost like he's an attack on the vulgarity of the new classless America that ostensibly we're supposed to admire . . .Jenny is cute and helpless as an orphan girl, but by the time she's all grown up she's got a mean streak and a chip on her shoulder . . . spurning young men or else shocking them with obscene taunts which reveal -- or rather hint -- at an enormous trauma she must have suffered as a small child. Gallant Sir Charles certainly was fond of his beautiful daughter . . .
—Carol Storm

It's unfortunate that this title is no longer in print because it's easy to see why it was a best-seller. Anya Seton again brings the past to life in her story about the Radcliffe family during the Jacobite movement in England and Scotland. Brothers James and Charles participate in the rebellion, knowing that they risk their wealth, property, titles and even their lives in support of the exiled James Stuart, whom the Jacobites believe the rightful king of England. Eventually, with James Radcliffe having been executed and Charles himself in exile, the Radcliffes move to the background and the book focuses on Charles' daughter Jenny.Seton's characters are not always likable -- at one of the book's climaxes, Jenny's husband Rob Wilson seems to completely step out of character and I wanted to strangle him! -- but that doesn't stop the reader from becoming completely engrossed, sucked into this turbulent time in England's history. Before reading Devil Water, I had only the vaguest notion of what the Jacobites were about, and now I can't help but wonder how history would have been different had James Stuart managed to secure the English throne.

A novel following the actual person of Charles Radcliff, younger brother of James, Earl of Derwentwater, who was one of the leaders of the Jacobite revolt in 1715.This book had me totally hooked from the very beginning. I was never once bored or waiting to get away from some character and back to another one. This book WOULD have been a 5 star, except for 1 way over the top incident about 70 pages from the end, from which, in my opinion, the book never recovered (or at least, my opinion of the book never recovered.)Other than that, it was a great book, and I'll be seeking out more Anya Seton.

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