Friday, January 11, 2013

The Joys of Critiquing: Royalist Rebel by Anita Seymour

One of the great things about being a member of a critique group is you get a sneak preview of books before they come out. In my case, it was Anita Seymour’s Royalist Rebel. This historical novel, due to be released on the 17th of January is based on the early life of Elizabeth Murray, a fascinating woman who managed to walk the line between being one of King Charles’s most loyal supporters and maintaining a friendship with Charles’ enemy, Oliver Cromwell.

Here’s Anita’s cover blurb:

Royalist Rebel by Anita Seymour

Intelligent, witty and beautiful, Elizabeth Murray wasn’t born noble; her family’s fortunes came from her Scottish father’s boyhood friendship with King Charles. As the heir to Ham House, their mansion on the Thames near Richmond, Elizabeth was always destined for greater things.

Royalist Rebel is the story of Elizabeth’s youth during the English Civil War, of a determined and passionate young woman dedicated to Ham House, the Royalist cause and the three men in her life; her father William Murray, son of a minister who rose to become King Charles’ friend and confidant, the rich baronet Lionel Tollemache, her husband of twenty years who adored her and John Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale, Charles II’s favourite.

With William Murray at King Charles’ exiled court in Oxford, the five Murray women have to cope alone. Crippled by fines for their Royalist sympathies, and besieged by the Surrey Sequestration Committee, Elizabeth must find a wealthy, non-political husband to save herself, her sisters, and their inheritance.
The trouble with blurbs is that, although they give you a glimpse into the challenges the characters face, they fall short when it comes to revealing the author’s style. And in Anita’s case, the style is positively delightful. She has a gift for finding the prĂ©cised world-building detail that brings you right back into the seventeenth century and at the same time adds a layer of meaning. While giving you a chuckle or two along the way. Her characters are multi-layered. The conflict within Elizabeth’s family is as compelling as the struggle between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers. Anita’s research is thorough and deep, and she’s put a lot of thought into making sense of Elizabeth’s motives and actions. By the time you’ve finished reading Royalist Rebel, you can see why Elizabeth had the love and admiration of the men in her life, including the leader of the cause sworn to undermine everything she stood for.

The good news is the Royalist Rebel is only the start. Anita’s already at work on a sequel and I can’t wait to see what comes next!

By the way, in putting this blog together, Anita and I had a discussion about the critiquing and editing process.  Here's what she wrote:
Jen Black read the finished copy and she said it was so different from reading individual unpublished chapters spread over a long period. She thought the finished book was well edited and flowed much better than it did when she read it the first time.

That's good to hear as it underwent some major changes between the crit group and the submitted manuscript, and then again when we got down to edits - so it seems the system works - I just hope other readers feel the same.
Royalist Rebel by Claymore Books, an imprint of Pen and Sword, is released on 17th January 2013

For a little background on the novel, see Anita’s Book Blog

The National Trust Website of Elizabeth Murray’s former home, Ham House, at Petersham near Richmond, Surrey

Anita’s Blog