Francine's review of Alethea
After falling in love with Francis Heron (Moon in the Water), I sought every book Pamela Belle published thereafter in which the English Civil Wars remained the backdrop, including the Wintercombe books. But as happens in life some books get lost, and I’m restocking on old favourites. Alethea is far removed from the first Heron book where first-person narrative of Thomazine leads the story. And for me, a budding novelist at the time Moon in the Water was first published, Pamela soon demonstrated how authors grow into the craft of writing books and some, though not all, switch to third-person narrative. Althea is set within the restoration years of Charles II just before the Great Fire of London, where the horror of it all, the sense fear of death is imminent if one falters for a second as sparks fly, the aftermath burns from the pages.
The backdrop of the novel almost reflects the fiery and sensual nature of Alathea’s tempestuous life and her overwhelming desire to challenge the status quo within the world of the great portraitists and artists of her day. Her father Francis, once a rebellious natured young man understands Alathea’s driving force perhaps better than anyone else, but she is very much her own woman. As with all artists, musicians, playwrights, and court wits, they revolve in circles of the great, the bad, and the ugly, each finding their own close niche, and Alethea is soon beguiled by one of the more notorious rakes of his day, the satirist John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester. As with all passionate momentary hedonistic flares the after burn takes hold and reality is seen for what it is, a bed of sorrowful ashes. Of course, true love and admiration is where least expected, a shadowy constant presence and solid foundation for love and security. Thus a return to all that first inspired her artistry appeals as never before, and once again the elder Herons’ can rest easy in knowing their daughter is in safe hands. This is a really lovely stand-alone novel despite it is part of the Heron series of books. There are incidents to thrill and excite in full measure as expected from a first class romance with dangers attached.
Whoopee. I have since obtained an original paperback copy of Alethea the same as bought as soon as it was published. Chuffed!