Genre – Elizabethan Historical Fiction Reviews
The BookViral Review:
‘The Rippon Spurrier” is an Elizabethan Historical Fiction set against the dramatic backdrop of Elizabethan Northern England late in the year 1569; the year of the tragic ‘Rising of the North’.
Throughout all of the years of the reign of Elizabeth, and her father and grandfather before her, the north of England seethed with anger and unrest. There was the growing anger and the resistance of the Northern Aristocracy to the creeping centralising policies of the Monarchy and the erosion of their regional authority and power base. There was, equally, a deeply held and passionate belief in the Catholic Church, currently outlawed by the Protestant Monarchy, and this belief ran really deep and inspired truly deep emotions. Many lives had already been lost in the cause of Catholicism and many more would be lost in the years to come. There had been many instances of active rebellion and revolt in the North of England and elsewhere and the presence of Mary, Queen of Scots, currently under house arrest and held by the Monarchy, provided a focus and a magnet to the many discontented. Secure in the knowledge that the Pope was being actively petitioned for aid in the return of England to the true faith and the excommunication of Elizabeth [widely held by many to be illegitimate] and with at least a technical support from the Catholic powers of both France and Spain, all the necessary ingredients were present in the north of England in late 1569 for a violent explosion with truly tragic consequences.
The result and the tragic events of October 1569 to January 1570 are unrolled with sensitivity and great flair to the reader by C.J. Richardson through the first person accounts of three of the many characters of the book. Robert Gray is a blacksmith and an especially skilled metal worker particularly proud of his flair in the making of spurs in the village of Rippon in Yorkshire. HIs pregnant wife Catherine, blinded in one eye in a childhood accident, possesses gifts of healing and is believed by some to be a witch. Their relatively obscure and mundane lives are transformed by events and the involvement in their lives of Anne, the pregnant wife of Thomas Percy, seventh Earl of Northumbria, one of the key leaders of the Rebellion. As Robert becomes embroiled in the conflict, following his master and patron Thomas Markenfield in the service of the Earls of Northumbria and Westmorland in their rebellion, Catherine is entangled in the affairs of Anne Percy, becoming servant, nurse and then confidante of the ailing Countess.
Movingly, C.J. Richardson takes us through the early days of the Rebellion. We follow the emotions of the heady excitement of Robert and Catherine and of how the Rebellion impacted upon them and changed their lives forever. We are introduced to those family and friends close and dear to them, or isolated and estranged. These are ordinary people who had hitherto led ordinary lives now changed forever. We enter the lives too of those more privileged than they and their own hopes and fears. We are led from the early triumphs of the Rebellion to the steady decline of their successes, hopes and ambitions and to the ultimate and abject failure of the uprising and a desperate search for safety. This is a story of family, honour, loyalty and faith. It is a story and a chronicle of treachery and betrayal and of the enduring strength of family bonds. C.J.
Richardson tells an exciting and stirring tale with warmth and passion in a compelling and captivating account of the times. The Rippon Spurrier is unreservedly recommended!