Synopsis from Amazon:
A vivid and scholarly portrait of England in the reign of Charles II. The joy of the Restoration is a fading memory, and conflicts of land ownership and religious toleration are raging. The story is set on the Furness Peninsula in Northern England, now part of Cumbria, and concerns how ordinary folks survive, live and love in times of political upheaval and social conflict. There is a feisty heroine who keeps an eye on how her very own Restoration bawdy comedy is progressing, a chilling villain, a proto-Darcy hero, and a gallery of characters from real history. This is Kathleen Herbert at her rich best: a book which is intelligent, full of humour and above all, deeply humane.
At the beginning of our journey through life in the 1670’s, we meet our heroine Rosamund. Having sent out a ‘spiritual call’ for her twin Stephen, she is waiting for him to return from his Grand Tour of Europe. Her father is an alchemist and we know she is eagerly awaiting her brothers’ return to complete the Sacred Marriage. As she sees him crossing the dangerous sands in Morecombe Bay, something happens to unsettle her and Stephen’s homecoming is not as joyous as she imagined.
As they try to get back to the easy relationship of the days before Stephen went away, he makes it clear that he doesn’t want to take part in alchemical experiments – he feels as if he has returned home to a prison. He talks about the Catholic sights and people he has seen while on his Grand Tour.
Shortly afterwards, they both stay at a family friends home to help entertain guests. During this time, politics of the day are discussed and Rosamund tries to be a calming influence. We are introduced to some key characters that play their parts later on in the story and during this time relationships are made.
We get to experience a falsely accused treason, death, love, magic and some fabulous key characters.
My favourite character has to be Rosamund. Rosamund is such a feisty woman – bearing in mind how it was in the time the story is set, she is a woman who does exactly what she believes in. I watched her grow from someone not quite sure of herself in the world to a woman travelling alone and making life work for her. I loved her defiance and acceptance. Having said that Harry (the proto-Darcy hero) wasn’t bad either ………… the best part of the story for me was when Harry was playing the role of travelling doctor ……………………
I really enjoyed this story – the way we get to experience how life was lived in the 17th century (the author has painstakingly researched); how the politics of the day are portrayed and the underlying rebellion; the celebrations of the Sabbats (Sabbats are the yearly cycle of the earth’s seasons and would have been important during the time the story is set); the magic; the characters and the setting!
If you like historical fiction, then you will love The Moon in Leo.
I would like to thank the publisher for sending me a copy to review (via an article written by author Isabel Ashdown ‘The Writing Community: How readers and authors can support each other).
Moon in Leo is published by Trifolium Books UK 14 Feb 2011.
You can find out more about Kathleen Herbert on Trifolium’s blog.