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A Crowning Mercy by Bernard Cornwell
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Set during the 1640s when King Charles I of England was at war with his own people, this story follows the up and downs of a beautiful woman with an ugly name: Dorcas Slythe. Not surprisingly, when she meets her dream man, who adores her but hates her name, she readily agrees to being called Campion after a beautiful flower.

Campion is raised as a Puritan. Her unloving father beats her with his belt whenever she does anything he considers as sinful. Yet he’s hiding something from her; something that holds great riches and a means of escape from her miserable home.

At length Campion discovers her father’s secret and leaves for London. For the rest of the story she experiences a mixture of great happiness and humiliating horrors.

The two authors have done a good job of intermixing themes. Some readers won’t like this whilst others – including me – will appreciate the blend of different tones. In some instances they do this in the same scene.

For example, early on in the book Campion’s enemies are trying to force her to marry an ugly man. During the service, while she’s being manhandled by someone she knows would rape her with pleasure, there’s also a comedy being acted out with the drunk priest. Again, some readers may not like this, but I found it high entertainment and cleverly written.

I did consider some sections as dull but these were few. On the whole I thought this was an excellent tale, well-plotted, blending humour and horror to great effect, featuring a likeable heroine along with several strong characters. ( )
  PhilSyphe | Nov 7, 2014 |
A good little page turner set in Puritan England during the reign of Oliver Cromwell. ( )
  charlie68 | Jun 6, 2009 |
A wonderfully exciting read with a great twist in the tail ( )
  steven3 | May 26, 2009 |
You can tell this is by a younger Cornwell - the characters are less rounded and interesting than in his later novels and are rather simplistic stereotypes - the innocent young girl, dashing Cavalier hero, strict Puritan father, strict and sadistic Puritan brother. ( )
  john257hopper | Aug 24, 2006 |
The civil war, England, 1643. Dorcas Slythe, a Puritan woman living in the countryside. The chance to escape her father appears when Toby Lazender (rich family) arrives, renaming her campion. They discover a gold seal -- one of four that, when joined, will reveal a great secret and uncover an enormous fortune -- Campion's quest begins. ( )
  bosco | Dec 4, 2005 |
Showing 5 of 5
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bernard Cornwellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kells, Susannahmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
The bed be blest that I lie on,
Four angels to my bed,
Four angels round my head,
One to watch, and one to pray,
And two to bear my soul away.
Thomas Ady
For Michael, Todd and Jill
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The boat slammed into a wave.
She first met Tody Lazender on a day that seemed a foretaste of heaven.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
One sunlit afternoon, a young girl- illicitly bathing in a stream - first fell in love with a passing stranger. Her parents called her Dorcas, but he called he Campion and that's what she longed to be, then and forever. So when an unbearable suitor is forced on her, she flees to seek her lover, taking with her the one gift left to her by her unknown father - a pendant of gold. There are four of these jewels, each key to a secret, each owned by a stranger. When one person has them all, the holder will have access to great wealth and power. This is Campion's inheritance, one of peril and enchantment.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0007168233, Paperback)

A highly entertaining, wonderfully colourful story, now revealed to be written by one of our favourite historical novelists. In mid seventeenth-century England, the nation was in upheaval. In the Dorset countryside, one sunlit afternoon, a young girl -- illicitly bathing in a stream -- first fell in love with a passing stranger. Her parents called her Dorcas, but he called her Campion and that's what she longed to be, then and forever. She had one gift left for her by her unknown father -- a pendant made of gold, banded by tiny glowing stones and at its base was a seal engraved with an axe and the words: St Matthew. So when she flees before the unbearable, worthy suitor who is forced upon her after her forbidden meeting, she takes this and the delicate lace gloves with her, and hopes to find her father, and her lover. There are four of these intricately wrought seals -- each owned by a stranger, each holding a secret within. And when all four seals are united, then the holder will have access to great wealth and power. That is Campion's inheritance. But to claim this and find again her summer love, she must follow the course her father's legacy charts for her. It is a road full of both peril and enchantment. A Crowning Mercy was first published in 1983 under the name Susannah Kells. It has been out of print for 10 years. HarperCollins are delighted to be able to re-publish it.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:24 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

The civil war that is tearing England asunder in the year 1643 has not yet touched Dorcas Slythe, a secretly rebellious young Puritan woman living in the countryside south of London. She aches to escape the safe, pious tyranny of her father -- and the opportunity appears with the arrival of Toby Lazender, dashing scion of a powerful royalist family, who awakens her to her passionate destiny. Her adventure truly begins with the discovery of an intricately wrought gold seal -- one of four that, when joined, will reveal a great secret. Suddenly grave danger lies before her -- not from Cromwell's advancing armies, but from relentless enemies who covet the great treasure to which she now holds the key--Publisher's description.… (more)

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