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May 2018: Family Drama > The Last Royal Rebel: The Life and Death of James, Duke of Monmouth - Anna Keay - 4 stars

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message 1: by Jenny (last edited May 26, 2018 10:10AM) (new)

Jenny (jennywilliams88) | 733 comments Blurb: At first light on July 6, 1685, the last battle ever fought on English soil was almost over. On one side of the watery pasture at Sedgemoor was the dashing thirty-six-year-old Duke of Monmouth, the charismatic son of Charles II, adored by the people. A reformer, a romantic, and a Protestant, he was fighting the army he had once commanded, in opposition to his uncle, King James II. Yet even before he launched his attack, Monmouth knew he would die.

Born in the backstreets of Rotterdam in the year his grandfather Charles I was executed, Monmouth was the child of a turbulent age. His mother, the first of Charles II's famous liaisons, played courtesan to the band of raw and restless young royalists forced abroad by the changing political current. Conceived during a revolution and born into a republic, Monmouth, by the time he was twelve, was the sensation of the most licentious and libertine court in Europe. Adored by the king and drenched in honors, he became the greatest rake and reprobate of the age.

On his path to becoming "the last royal rebel," Monmouth consorted with a spectacular list of contemporaries: Louis XIV was his mentor, William of Orange his confidant, Nell Gwyn his friend, the future Duke of Marlborough his pupil, D'Artagnan his lieutenant, John Dryden his censor, and John Locke his comrade. Anna Keay expertly chronicles Monmouth's life and offers splendid insight into this crucial and dramatic period in English history.

Review: This wasn't tagged 'family drama' but it most certainly is as Keay details the family breakdown of what was once a very close-knit unit.

However, I would suggest only reading this if you have a keen interest in this period of British history - the writing is quite slow and only gets exciting at Chapter 12, which is the point at when you start thinking "what's going to happen next"?!

Overall I enjoyed this book although I'm slightly biased as the book sets up the history to the start of my Master's degree in Eighteenth Century Studies (which for me is 1688-1830).


message 2: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6734 comments Ha ha, can there be anything more suitable to family drama than stories about the English monarchy/artistocracy?

This sounds so interesting the way you write it up, but I'm not the best history reader so wondering if I would actually make it to chapter 12. It's hard (it seems to me) to read these books sometimes if you don't already have a good background in the subject matter. My husband loves this stuff so I may have to share it with him instead.

So cool you are doing a masters degree!!


message 3: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jennywilliams88) | 733 comments Anita wrote: "Ha ha, can there be anything more suitable to family drama than stories about the English monarchy/artistocracy?

This sounds so interesting the way you write it up, but I'm not the best history re..."


Thanks Anita. I actually graduated in 2013 - I'm using this year for June's decathlon challenge 😊!

I think you could probably get away with starting the book after the first set of pictures as that's when things start to get interesting - but I do understand that history is not everyone's cup of tea!


message 4: by Cynda (last edited May 28, 2018 06:11PM) (new)

Cynda  (cynda) Hi Jenny. I remember that once way when I was finishing my undergraduate work that I did one of my semester projects on an Anglo-Irsh War about the same period and ending about 1745. If I remember correctly, the war also included elements of Jacobean Uprising. If my library had it, I would at least look. I guess I could also see if the local college or local university have a copy. . . . Thoughts turn.


message 5: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2098 comments I love history. Adding on my long list of books.


message 6: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6734 comments I want to like reading history! I love learning, but I find I never have the broader context necessary to really know what is going on except for U.S. history . . .


message 7: by Cynda (last edited May 28, 2018 08:20PM) (new)

Cynda  (cynda) Anita wrote: "I want to like reading history! I love learning, but I find I never have the broader context necessary to really know what is going on except for U.S. history . . ."

If you are asking how:
The thing about history is I want chronology lists, maps, definitions, family trees, basic encyclopedic information (Wikipedia)--and they are all available, of not in the book, then on my mobile device.
Suggestion: Sart with historical novels about one topic and the start reading popular history books on the topic. Your local librarian can help you.
If you are not asking how to start reading history, let's act like I didn't say anything,


message 8: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2098 comments Anita wrote: "I want to like reading history! I love learning, but I find I never have the broader context necessary to really know what is going on except for U.S. history . . ."

When I don't have a reference or understand what is going on, I turn to Wikipedia. That is also why I loved A Brief History of British Kings and Queens: British Royal History from Alfred the Great to the Present


message 9: by Cynda (new)

Cynda  (cynda) Right Jason. That's what we did before the Internet. I had dictionaries--a small variety, including a pictorial (for images of), various generic encyclopedias, and book- and paper-sized lists, style books from both traditions I wrote in--literary and historical. All this and more helped.
E B White said that readers need help.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

I love history and I am one of those that loves World History ore than American history.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Cynda wrote: "Anita wrote: "I want to like reading history! I love learning, but I find I never have the broader context necessary to really know what is going on except for U.S. history . . ."

If you are askin..."


This is such a great idea. I have read history fiction at times, only to become so caught in the history of the world it takes place in that I end up setting the book down and getting into some deep research of the region, and the time. This is such a great and easy way to learn.


message 12: by Magdalena (new)

Magdalena | 414 comments World History is way more interesting to me then American history. Whenever I read historical fiction I always end up researching everything sometimes even down to the food they're eating.


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