Jill's Reviews > In Byron's Shadow

In Byron's Shadow by Ashley J. Barnard
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Jun 30, 11

bookshelves: romantic-historical-fiction, 2011-4-5-5-stars
Read in June, 2011

4.5 stars

Nicholas Price, twenty-one, heir to a title, recent Oxford graduate and aspiring poet is obsessed with the Romantic poet, Lord Byron. So taken with everything Byronic, he declares his intention of marrying Ada, Byron's eighteen year-old daughter. Without even having met her. Luckily for Nicholas, one evening among his father, Lord Neville's guests, are Ada and her mother Annabella, Lady Byron. Nicholas naturally is smitten - even though "she was not quite as beautiful as he hoped" - and during the evening he manages to spend some time alone with Ada, convincing her to see him again.

For Ada, though she may be the daughter of one of the world's most famous poets, there is no provision in her life for poetry and certainly none of her father's. Her mother forbids it, convinced that the madness and debauchery of Byron can be exorcised from tainting her daughter by instilling in her instead, a love of mathematics and science.

At the same soiree is James, Nicholas's nineteen year-old brother, and ten year-old Catherine O'Reilly and her father Sir George O'Reilly. After hearing Catherine recite Shakespeare, Nicholas is enchanted befriending young Catherine and telling her -

"Any girl with a passion for Shakespeare will always be regarded as as dear friend of mine. Should you ever need assistance, dear Catherine, pray come to me."

Portentous words, as ten years later Catherine seeks out Nicholas who after an ill-fated elopement with Ada has been disinherited by his father. James is now heir to their father's title and fortune. And this is where the story really begins to unfold as the lives of Nicholas, James and Catherine become entwined with each other.

As far as I can tell from the limited reading I have done on Lord Byron and Ada, author Ashley Barnard has stuck to the historical facts. Though this is essentially the story of Nicholas, James and Catherine - all fictional characters - their lives have been ingeniously woven into the lives of real people. To me this is the very best type of historical fiction where the historical facts and figures are left unchanged. And the unknown or uncertain details re-invented to fit the story.

There are real surprises and twists and turns in this well-plotted story. The last third especially I found so engrossing as to be unputdownable. A really excellent romantic historical fiction and highly recommended.

4.5 stars

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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Barbara (new) - added it

Barbara Hi Jill. Is this book only available as an ebook? It looks great, but it doesn't seem to be available in an actual "book format." (I'm old fashioned when it comes to reading -- I can't really get into ebooks yet!!!) THANKS!! Looks like a great story!!!


Jill Hi Barbara. As far as I know, yes only an e-book. I was also very "old-fashioned" until I relented and got my Kindle. Really worth it. And so easy to use and read.


message 3: by Barbara (new) - added it

Barbara Thanks Jill! Actually, I have been thinking of getting a Kindle or a Nook, but the only reason is because my books are just taking up way too much space in my small NYC apartment!! I'm leaning more toward the Nook, only because there are so many Barnes & Noble stores right here, so if I have any questions or if anything goes wrong, I can just go into the store and get customer service right there. Do you know if there are a lot of difference between the Kindle and the Nook??? THANKS!!!


message 4: by Jill (last edited Jun 27, 2011 05:20PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill I know exactly what you mean about books taking up too much space. I have storage containers full of them! But I also got the Kindle because a lot of new releases come out first in e-format. And because when I buy print books from the States (it's cheaper than here in Australia) it takes weeks for them to arrive.

Sorry Barbara I don't know too much about the Nook. When I was looking at an e-reader I decided on the Kindle because I think it is the best (for what I want anyway). And because I buy my e-books through Amazon. Of course the Nook may suit you better since you have easy access to B&N.

Hope you get an e-reader though. It's amazing how it's become a permanent fixture - goes with me everywhere.


message 5: by Barbara (new) - added it

Barbara Thanks Jill! I'm glad you're enjoying the Kindle so much! Like you, once I get an e-reader I'm sure it will go with me everywhere as well.

I'm looking forward to your review on Byron's Shadow!!


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