As Stephen Long steps ashore in England one gray dawn in May 1581, he wonders how many more Catholics will have to die to make Queen Elizabeth feel secure. Involuntarily, he trembles at the thought that soon he may be numbered among them.
For in the days ahead, each time Stephen hears confession or celebrates Mass, he commits yet another act of high treason against the British Crown, for which Queen Elizabeth’s swift penalty is gruesome torture and painful death. As Stephen hastens to find shelter away from that open beach, he struggles not only with fear but with doubt, as well: “Is my mission foolish? Am I nothing more than fresh meat for the queen’s butchers?”
In the light of that same gray dawn, just a few miles north, a heartbroken Caroline Wingate lies awake in her unhappy marriage bed, wrestling with thoughts of a different—perhaps crueler—martyrdom.
Although from her earliest years Caroline has known herself to be called to cloistered contemplative life as a nun, some years ago she was forced by her father into a politically “safe” marriage with an upright Protestant, from whom she must hide her Catholicism—and her true vocation—lest she, too, be executed for her faith.
Hanging by the neck is swift martyrdom, but Caroline’s doubts and guilt have pained her daily for years now. An exile in her own soul, in her lonely desolation she confesses, “I don’t love my husband as I should. For safety’s sake, I cannot give myself wholly to him and must deceive him daily. Nor can I give myself to the One I truly love.”
In a few days, circumstances will force Caroline and the young priest together. With death hastening toward both of them, the beautiful fates of these two faithful Catholics confirm what we today too often forget: our faith is the most powerful force in the world—more powerful than politics, wars, or empires. More powerful even than the hard, cold will of Queen Elizabeth.
In this gripping, heartrending tale, Caroline and Stephen show us that it’s not power that writes the true history of the world; it’s faith: faith and the love that faith alone can awaken and sustain.
|Publisher:||Sophia Institute Press|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||1 MB|
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The April 22, 2013 review is postive, yet it only has one star. The average rating is deceiving. I'm buying the book and giving 5 stars in anticipation of a good read. I'll write a review after I'm done.
I loved this book. I think it will appeal to so many: Christians, whether congregationalist, Anglican, or Catholic (and I have been all of the above)—or anyone who wonders how Christians can kill one another in the name of the Gospel. Lovers of history, especially English history. And above all, lovers of fiction, those who know fiction often holds more truth than does “history.” Editor Joseph Pearce is spot on when he compares “Treason” to Robert Hugh Benson’s “Come Rack! Come Rope!” as well as to Benson’s “Lord of the World.” Stories from Christianity’s past necessarily read just like apocalyptic fiction. This is our history (one often sanitized and revised away), but it is also our future. Convicting, it asks whether the Son of Man will indeed find faith on the earth when He returns. It also begs the reader whether he will be a martyr (for that is the true meaning of “witness”). That martyrdom can be either white or red, but there is no third alternative. Some historical fiction reads like a history lesson with paper characters pasted on. Dena Hunt’s writing is nothing like that. She has a gift for story-telling, and for creating characters. The plot is very human, but interwoven with the mystery of God’s providence. There is much theology here, but without preaching. She writes of the complexity of that white martyrdom, and the choices forced on Christians through circumstances beyond their control. Politics, marriage, money, sexuality—all are here, all challenged by the Gospel call. In some ways, this is the novel Benson would have written a century later. But more than an update, it also illustrates how the persecution affected the “simple faithful”—people who would never encounter Mary Stuart or Elizabeth, but whose lives were influenced by their actions. My only complaint: Too short. I hated for it to end. Brava indeed!
Treason: This was a lovely read. Over a decade ago, I myself was going through a post-conversion crisis of faith and found myself on a trip to England and Ireland. The stories I heard then of the Catholic martyrs, especially those of England, opened my eyes anew to the value of our faith: that it is a truth worth dying for. Dena Hunt’s novel Treason put flesh and bone and breath into those stories and made me value the faith anew. I have to say that the pacing is much slower than I usually read, but I still finished Treason in a day. Hunt brought a quiet immediacy to those far-distant stories of the priests and laypeople who gave their lives–not just their life-breath but their daily comforts, their moments of personal peace, their relationships with their countrymen–because they were not willing to lie. Do you need an example of day-to-day courage? Do you need hope that our flailing efforts have value to make present here the Kingdom of God? Then go read Treason by Dena Hunt.
What difference can a week make in the life of a person? After reading Treason, the answer is a big difference. Miss Hunt’s book takes us through a week in the lives of several communities in southern England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The events and actions of that week have far-reaching consequences, showing that the actions of one individual can affect the life of a nation. The one individual in this book is Stephen Long, a young Englishman returning to his native home after time abroad. Unlike most travelers returning home, Stephen’s homecoming is lonely and furtive: he is a newly-ordained Catholic priest returned to a land in which priesthood is a capital offence. His return sparks a chain reaction of events that changes the course of history. The cover of this book presents it as “A Catholic Novel of Elizabethan England” which could pigeonhole it into a small category of Catholic historical fiction. It is that, but through her writing, Miss Hunt presents us with characters that defy time, place and even creed. The novel is populated with characters we call all recognize because we know them as ourselves. They are people who are confronted with the strangers we all make of ourselves when we choose not to see the reality of who we are and where we are going in life. Despite his love for his wife, Edward Wingate sees his wife Caroline as a stranger to him. Caroline feels compelled to suppress the love of her life in favor of her public life as lady of the manor. The Anders family hide their Catholicism in favor of maintaining the look of a compliant Anglican upper-class family, causing both private anguish and public disdain from recusant Catholics who openly lived their faith despite the consequences. Caroline asks herself, “How many of us all…are exiles from our own hearts?” (p. 75). A good question for us all. Caroline ends her exile and finally opens her heart to her husband—and he closes his heart to all as a consequence: “…he found that he preferred the view that others had of him to that mystery, which became a stone dropped in his heart and remained there the rest of his life” (182). It’s the tragedy of an unexamined life, not something limited to historical fiction, but applicable to all times and places. Treason is both the story of a man hunt and a love story. Spending a week with Stephen Long is definitely time well spent.