Anyone who has trouble placing the whereabouts of their keys, or can’t quite grasp the current East Enders plotlines has their work cut out in November. What with Rememberence Day (which is also my Book Club month choice, and have a highly appropriate book I think…) on the 11th and Bonfire Night on the 5th, like elephants, we can never forget this month.
In the North, Bonfire night is always something of an oddity. What with it celebrating the discovering of a plot against a King that almost bankrupted half the country, and the hanging drawing and quartering (they strangle you for a bit until you almost pass out, then they slit your belly whilst your still alive, draw out all your inards and then cut you in four parts and bury you at four ends of the country so your soul will never be granted entry into heaven) of the conspirators, its hardly the most cheerful of festivals. Coming from Yorkshire, we never burnt Guys, just figurines of Margaret Thatcher (joke, obviously), and Bonfire Night for me was about gloves and sparklers.
But it is important to remember that people died trying to stop the debasement of a currency and the starvation of a populance, albiet in the name of religion rather than radical socialism. If you want a perfect way to remember the human cost of Bonfire Night I can think of no better than some lovely Historical Fiction set about the time.
Christie Dickason is a recent discovery of mine, and thanks to the lovely people at WH Smith last month I read one of her’s, The King’s Daughter. The first part of the book is not the best part by any means, however it does explore the Gunpowder Plot and its implications on the Royal House. I had no idea that part of the Plot was to kidnap the Princess Elizabeth, King James the I of England’s daughter and put her on the throne as a figurehead. Elizabeth is completly obvlious to any plot and the description of how she is forced to watch the execution of the plotters is grisly and stomach tighteningly good.
Dickason has written several novels set in the Stuart era, which is in dire need of some publicity considering how interesting it was. I very much look forward to reading more of her work and encorage and historical novel fans out there to do the same.
For an actual history of the time, I cannot recommend ‘Gunpowder Plot: Terror and Faith’ by Antonia Fraser highly enough. She is an excellent bibliographer and historian and this is up there with the best of her works, after the seminal Mary Queen of Scots.
And Daisy Dalrymple fans will be delighted to hear that number 15 in the amazingly good detective series set in the 1920s is called The Gunpowder Plot! Spiffing!