Book Reviews, Guest Reviews

A House Divided by Margaret Skea @margaretskea Guest Review~ By J A Warnock

About The Book 

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‘When you must face Maxwell, give evidence before
Cunningham the King. Have you thought on that?’
‘If I do not face Maxwell, I will not
be able to face myself.’

Scotland 1597. The truce bCunninghamand Montgomerie clans is fragile. And for the Munro family, living in hiding under assumed names, these are dangerous times.

While Munro risks his life daily in the army of the French King, the spectre of discovery by William Cunninghame haunts his wife Kate. Her fears for their children and her absent husband realized as William’s desire for revenge tears their world apart.

A sweeping tale of compassion and cruelty, treachery and sacrifice, set against the backdrop of a religious war, feuding clans and the Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1597.

This eagerly awaited sequel to Turn of the Tide can also be read as a stand-alone novel and will appeal to fans of Winston Graham’s Poldark and C J Sansom’s Shardlake series.

J A Warnock’s Guest Review 

Margaret Skea’s ‘A House Divided picks up the tale of the Munro Family some six years after the dramatic conclusion of her series opened ‘Turn of the Tide’ and it becomes quickly evident that, despite a seeming calm, the events of this instalment will be no less intense. The rumblings of trouble and uncertainty start on the first page and only build as the novel progresses.

In terms of practicalities, I do not think it essential to have read the first book in order to appreciate the second (I indeed had not) but, be warned you will be left with unanswered questions about the events that lead to the current circumstance.

‘A House Divided’ is nicely paced and picks up the tale from the perspective of a variety of characters as the story progresses. This often puts the reader in the enviable position of knowing more about what is going on than the characters themselves and helps drive the narrative. Characters are split less by blood or family allegiance and more by their decency and moral code.  I am trying, somewhat ineloquently to tell you there are baddies and goodies for whom the reader can boo or cheer! There is a real simplicity in the style of storytelling that belies the complexity of politics and plot in which it is set. In terms of context, pestilence, plague, spies, intrigue, witch trials, allegiances, succession and revenge make up only as a small proportion of the giddying mix. Each turn of the page brings a new calamity and once could, at times, be forgiven for thinking that, were it not for bad luck, the Munros would have no luck at all.

By making this essentially a story of a family that happens to be set within a historical context, Skea makes her novel all the more accessible. I would thoroughly recommend this novel so much I am off to find her first. Perhaps if I stand on my head after reading, the pieces will all fall into the right places. Four out of five stars from me.

Order your copy here ~ Amazon UK

About Margaret Skea 

 

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Margaret Skea

 

Margaret Skea grew up in Ulster at the height of the ‘Troubles’ but now lives with her husband in the Scottish Borders.

An interest in Scotland’s turbulent history, and in particular the 16th century, combined with PhD research into the Ulster-Scots vernacular, led to the writing of Turn of the Tide, which was the Historical Fiction Winner in the 2011 Harper Collins / Alan Titchmarsh People’s Novelist Competition and the Beryl Bainbridge Award for Best First Time Author 2014.

An Hawthornden Fellow and award-winning short story writer – her recent credits include, Overall Winner Neil Gunn 2011, Chrysalis Prize 2010, and Winchester Short Story Prize 2009. Third in the Rubery Book Award Short Story Competition 2013, a finalist in the Historical Novel Society Short Story Competition 2012, shortlisted in the Mslexia Short Story Competition 2012 and long-listed for the Historical Novel Society Short Story competition 2014, the Matthew Pritchard Award, the Fish Short Story and Fish One-Page Prize, she has been published in a range of magazines and anthologies in Britain and the USA.
A new collection of short stories – including some those from competitions mentioned above available for pre-order now.

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