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Drawing on a vast correspondence of more than 30,000 letters, British historian Tinniswood (By Permission of Heaven) tells the story of a remarkable elite English family in the 17th century. The Verneys' lives intersected with many historic events, such as the spread of empire: in 1634, for example, a dissolute and disobedient son was sent by his parents to the new English colony, Virginia. (He didn't last long, and returned home only to be packed off to the navy.) Civil war and religious reform sometimes divided the family, but Tinniswood is equally interested in narrating their private dramas: a scandalous out-of-wedlock pregnancy, coming-of-age conflicts between fathers and sons and arguments about whether one should marry for love or money. Although Tinniswood isn't afraid to reveal the less likable qualities of his protagonists, such as the men's sexual liberties, readers will find themselves genuinely enjoying the Verneys. While careful not to suggest that the Verneys were protofeminists, Tinniswood notes that the family often produced "powerful matriarchs" who were extremely capable. Throughout, Tinniswood ably explains the basics of 17th-century English politics, so that even readers unfamiliar with English history will be able to enjoy this absorbing family history. Map. (May)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Posted September 21, 2013
This is a truly amazing book. It is that most rare of histories that reads like a novel that can't be put down. Mr. Tinniswood has given us a window into a world that has both vanished, and at the same time is so much like our own. One cannot read this book without falling in love with the Verney family - the stalwarts, rogues, crazy old aunts, and all the other characters that make up a big sprawling family. Read and be drawn in to this captivating world.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.