A Catch of Consequence

( 12 )


A captivating historical novel from the national bestselling author, as Ariana Franklin, of Mistress of the Art of Death.

Makepeace Burke serves Patriots at her late father's tavern on the Boston waterfront in 1765 and hates the redcoats with a vengeance. But even she can't watch an angry mob drown an Englishman. She rescues him and nurses him back to health-and falls in love.

In Patriot Boston, hers is an unforgivable sin-made worse by the ...

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A Catch of Consequence

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A captivating historical novel from the national bestselling author, as Ariana Franklin, of Mistress of the Art of Death.

Makepeace Burke serves Patriots at her late father's tavern on the Boston waterfront in 1765 and hates the redcoats with a vengeance. But even she can't watch an angry mob drown an Englishman. She rescues him and nurses him back to health-and falls in love.

In Patriot Boston, hers is an unforgivable sin-made worse by the fact that her Englishman turns out be the aristocratic Sir Philip Dapifer. Philip must smuggle Makepeace aboard a ship bound for London and save her life at the expense of the world she knows.

Rich in period detail, bringing the years of colonial rebellion to vivid life, A Catch of Consequence is a stylish novel of Boston and England, and of a woman who defies convention in both worlds.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Makepeace is so irresistibly indomitable, readers will relish every moment of her unforgettable adventures."

"Moves at a cracking pace...An exhilarating sense of those times and their possibilities."
-The Daily Telegraph

Written in the style of the 18th century, this novel captures the tension between the colonies and England in the characters of Makepeace Burke and Lord Dapifer. Burke is an unconventional woman for her time period, a tavern keeper on the Boston waterfront in 1765. When she rescues a drowning British lord and takes him back to the tavern to nurse him, she runs afoul of the American revolutionaries. Out of gratitude that turns into love, Dapifer takes her to his ancestral home and she becomes the second Lady Dapifer on the trip to England. Unfortunately, the first Lady Dapifer does not recognize her divorce and causes great trouble. How that trouble is resolved and how Makepeace finds her place in the world comprise the pivotal emphasis of the novel. Personal, national and international conflicts abound in this historical fiction as do interesting characters of the time; some, like Sam Adams, well known and others not. The story is told with an air of authenticity, making this novel more than a history lesson, though there is history to be learned in its plot, and lessons to be learned in its history. KLIATT Codes: SA;Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Berkley, 386p.,
— Nola Theiss
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425190159
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/1/2003
  • Series: Makepeace Hedley Series , #1
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 716,736
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.96 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

A former journalist, Diana Norman has written critically acclaimed biographies and historical novels. Under the pen name Ariana Franklin, she is also the author of the bestselling novels Mistress of the Art of Death and The Serpent's Tale.
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Reading Group Guide


From the moment Makepeace Burke fishes Englishman Sir Philip Dapifer out of the Charles River in pre-Revolutionary War Boston, saving his life, her own is forever changed. Suddenly finding herself ranked a traitor for rescuing a member of the English aristocracy, Makepeace is forced to leave her home and set out on a journey that will steer her in directions of which she could never have dreamed.

A Catch of Consequence is at once a vivid historical novel, a haunting love story, and an unforgettable portrait of a remarkable woman. Diana Norman has crafted another richly textured tale of passion, loss, and courage—and of the power and the pain wrought from being true to oneself against all odds.


Having worked on local newspapers in Devon and the East End of London, Diana Norman became, at twenty, the youngest reporter in what used to be Fleet Street. Now the author of biographies as well as historical novels, she is married to film critic Barry Norman, with whom she settled in Hertfordshire. They have two daughters.


"Drama, passion, intrigue...I loved it and didn't want it to end ever." —Sunday Times (London)

"She captures the feel of the period with wit, verve and emotion."—Woman's Own

"Quite simply splendid."—Frank Delaney, author of At Ruby's


  • Early on, Makepeace and her brother Aaron stand on opposite sides of the politics of the day, i.e., colonial autonomy vs. British rule. Yet even when they "were back on their ancient battlefield," it is made "more bitter by the knowledge that both had truth on their side." What is meant by this? Are they both, in fact, right, in their differing views, and if so, how?
  • After Makepeace learns that Captain Busgutt and his crew aboard the Gideon have been pressed—when she at first feared the news would be that they were dead—"the word tolled through the kitchen like a passing bell. It was almost as dreadful, it was almost the same." Why? What did it mean for an American sailor to be pressed? Why is it that this news causes Makepeace to "come to terms with an altered future"?
  • Dapifer first calls Makepeace 'Procrustes' in her bedroom at the Roaring Meg. How did this nickname evolve, and what does it come to mean between them as their relationship deepens? Although Dapifer "set[s] her blood fizzing," why does Makepeace reject his offer to accompany him to England—even though "she'd cherish it for the rest of her life"? Why, at this point in time, does the thought of marriage occur to neither Makepeace nor Dapifer?
  • Betty and Tantaquidgeon—besides Aaron—are Makepeace's family, her greatest supporters, her dearest friends. They are also both her servants and people of color. Do their differences in class and color ever cause conflict for any of them? Why is Makepeace devoted to Betty? To Tantaquidgeon? How do Makepeace's and Betty's views of their relationship differ? Do you see Betty's ultimate decision to return to Boston as a defection?
  • After Susan Brewer assists her with a requested makeover aboard the Lord Percy, Makepeace experiences the revelation at dinner that "men responded to the wrapping, not the content." Why does Makepeace bother getting rouged up and corseted? Was she trying, despite the fact that since boarding the ship she had "fallen out of love with him," to woo Dapifer? She had been aware of Dr. Baines' desire to propose; did she suspect, subconsciously, that Dapifer too had marriage in mind—and that she was, in fact, still in love? Why does Makepeace feel that "their relationship was now alienated beyond repair" and that "she was a burden to him"? Do you think this was Dapifer's view, at any point?
  • When Catty and Makepeace first meet at Grosvenor Square, Catty greets Dapifer with, "Husband, welcome home," despite the fact that he has procured a divorce from her in America. Is this foreshadowing of the brutal battle Catty is about to wage? How serious does it appear at this stage—did you imagine Catty's greed and desire for vengeance could reach such colossal heights? How is it that, although "Makepeace knew she'd been born to hate her," and even as Catty spews cruel declarations—from insulting Makepeace's dress to calling Tantaquidgeon a "totem pole" and Betty's son Josh "a little picaninny"—the term "exquisite" remains the mot juste to describe Catty? What is exquisite about Catty? Is it merely her petiteness and delicacy? What does her "animal quickness with a smile of tiny, white, backward-sloping teeth" signal about Catty's character?
  • Had Dapifer not chosen to journey all the way to America to obtain a divorce, Catty wouldn't have had any grounds for her accusation of bigamy. What does Dapifer's—eventually fatal—decision in the divorce matter say about him? Do you believe he truly had no idea that a divorce acquired outside his native country might not be honored within its borders? What does her opinion of her husband's choices tell us about Makepeace?
  • At Hertfordshire, as she considers her guests contrasted with her kitchen staff, Makepeace thinks: "How irritating these people were and how unexpected. Observed from across the Atlantic, England appeared as lofty as the Dover cliffs and as little concerned with what it looked out on, a view confirmed by her reception here. But the men and women below had a rough humanity their ruling class did not; their indifference was more a lack of deliberation, or an innocence. So sure were they of their own fair play, they were surprised that other peoples were not in accord with them. Here, in its greed and good humor, was the England that built empires. She had encountered the same breed in Boston." Discuss the effects of British rule in the early days of New England colonization, and the resultant reverberations of class distinction. Was Makepeace ever truly accepted into upper-class English society? Was the issue of class very different from the way it is today, in America? In England?
  • Makepeace lived for years on her plan to exact revenge on Catty and Conyers. How did her quest for reprisal impact her life? Did her campaign to settle the score shape who she became to those who loved her? How did Betty take Makepeace's grim crusade? What effect did it have on Philippa?
  • The coal-lined netherworld that Makepeace descends into with Andra Hedley is a metaphor for death: pitch-black darkness, like "the coffin lid coming down, the withdrawal of self, of hope, of God. In that moment she knew what death actually was....She lost Dapifer then." Hedley tells her, "Persephone comes yearly out the shadows and you'll do the same." This is both belated acknowledgment of reality and our earliest glimmer that Makepeace might recover from Dapifer's death. Is there yet more underlying this encounter? Do you see, at this stage, any sign that her relationship with Hedley might symbolize something beyond a means to the wealth she requires to carry out her revenge? Does it seem unlikely, here, that she could have an intimate relationship with a man who is Dapifer's antithesis? Does Makepeace entertain the idea at all?
  • Relatively late in life—although she is young yet—Makepeace discovers the satisfaction of female bonding, beyond the rich relationship she has long shared with Betty, in her friendship with Susan Brewer. Do you think Makepeace's relationships with the women whom she employs in the mines are significant in her discovering who she really is? As a hardnosed, goal-driven businesswoman whose sole ambition is to settle a grudge, how great is Makepeace's capacity to appreciate her female helpers and colleagues?
  • When Makepeace and Hedley become trapped in the mine and share their near-death/sexual experience, does it seem like a fluke—a freakish representation of what can happen during times of crisis, when life is threatened? Is it merely Makepeace's release after such prolonged and intense grieving? Does it seem plausible that she can feel for a man after losing one "for whom there was no comparison"? In what direction, at this critical moment, do you think Makepeace's life will head?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 14 of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 29, 2010

    A solid read, but not great

    I will not waste your time by a summary you can easily surmise from other reviews. The bottom line: I read a lot of historical fiction, and this was as solid a researched piece as I have read in quite some time. The cadence of the speech, the rich detail of people, places and things-the author did her legwork. For the first half of the novel, I was spellbound. The characters truly lived and breathed and I with them. The second act of the book failed to draw me (for reasons I cannot indulge without spoiling the plot), and for that reason, I have little interest in reading the sequel to this book. But if you are looking for a solid read and willing to wade through a bit of convoluted introspection, go ahead and buy this book. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 26, 2011

    I loved this Author!!

    All of Diana Normans books are amazing and captivating. Her other books under the name Ariana Franklin are even more so. Her death this past year is a great loss in the literary world.

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  • Posted July 7, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Historical Fiction!

    This was a Great book. I loved Makepeace, and my copy of this book will stay in my library.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2003

    A Great Read!

    This book was a little slow to start, in my opinion, but once I got into it I couldn't put it down! Makepeace is a strong woman who is able to survive no mater what life hands her. I really enjoy historical fiction and this book did not disappoint.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent period piece

    In 1765 Boston, tavern manager Makepeace Burke despises the English crown and aristocracy for what they are doing to her and her fellow colonists. However, that does not stop the twenty-four year old from rescuing Sir Philip Dapifer from drowning in the Charles River. Her Good Samaritan deed leads to her ostracism from her friends and other patriots.<P> Philip falls in love with his savior and returns the favor by sneaking her on board a ship bound to England. They marry on the vessel, but Makepeace finds life in England worse than Boston because the locals treat her with scorn for being a Yankee. As she adapts to her new life, Makepeace stays true to her beliefs of equality across the Anglo Atlantic, between classes, and between genders.<P> Though in many ways Makepeace is an anachronism seemingly more suited o live in today¿s society than the pre-Revolutionary War era, readers will admire her spunk. The story line enables the audience to taste life just before the war in Boston and London with an emphasis on the disparity of opinions. This fascinating dual look at the dichotomy make for a vividly fine historical tale that shows Diana Norman can paint multiple perspectives without dismissing either side inside an entertaining romance.<P> Harriet Klausner

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