Almost all of us are related to King Henry VIII—even in a shirt-tail way. I am fascinated with the royals and their history. My mother’s genealogical prowess unearthed her relationship to Queen Elizabeth as an eighth cousin twice removed. This makes those three adorable great-grandkids closer to me than ever.
I read countless historical novels—much more interesting than dry factual text—and after reading about my English ancestors, I always want to shout to the United States, “These are your kin. Pay attention!”
Harris’s intriguing book reveals what happened with King Henry and the Reformation. Oh yes, there were infidelities, tortures, burnings, and beheadings. And yet, through all of this, the terror made the way for the Church of England and eventually the restoration of the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
Harris has offered excellent historical research while giving us the story of Elinor and Garrett as bystanders to the horror of that time. This is a masterful work, though I do have to admit it follows the pattern of “fiction” that I too like to write—the kind of novel that enhances our knowledge of history while entertaining us through fictional characters. The ending is fabulous. Everyone should read this wonderful story to clarify the intriguing past.
“The Reformation of Lady Elinor” is about a young widow who is very devout Catholic during a time when the climate of religious belief was changing. Elinor is set to spy on Garrett Bloxham, a handsome man suspected of smuggling English language Bibles into England, a burning offense. She finds, however, that not only is Garrett definitely smuggling books and tracts, but why.
Elinor takes a pilgrimage to Rome in order to pay for some imagined sins in her early life she has been told by her priest has caused her daughter to be blind. She feels that the pilgrimage will earn healing for her daughter, and possibly buy her own way out of Purgatory.
On the journey she takes with Garrett Bloxham and his servant, she finds that things are rotten in Rome. Instead of finding the meeting with the Pope and his servants blissful and fulfilling, Elinor finds that he is definitely a man with feet of clay. She flees to the safety of Garrett’s arms, in spite of turning him away because he continued to throw a damper on her fantastic journey.
What Elinor learns is nothing if not earth-shattering. All her life she has been a staunch defender of the Catholic church. She begins to learn, under Garrett’s tender care, that God wanted His children to be able to read their own scriptures and make their own way back to Him.
Throughout the story in which she meets Tyndale and Luther, there is an element of menace in the form of Oswyn Pygott, a commissioner for the King, self-appointed punisher of smugglers and other heretics, and “admirer” of Elinor. I say admirer, but he actually only demands she marry him to get her money and name. Oswyn is determined to catch Bloxham at his smuggling and torture him to death.
I enjoyed this book about the Reformation. The research Mr. Harris did was exhaustive and complete. He puts you right there during the stew that was England at the time of Henry VIII. What a dangerous time in which to live! This book makes me glad that we live in a country in which there must be due process of law and separation of Church and State.
While I am a religious person, I would not want to have my every move dictated to me. I like to form my own conclusions and manage my own beliefs and morals. It is clear to me why my ancestors fled Britain for the Colonies.
There is one spot in which Princess Mary is mistakenly attributed to Ann Boleyn, when she was actually Kathryn of Aragon’s only child. I believe the error was fixed for later editions, and the author mentions the correct daughter elsewhere.
My one other warning is that Mr. Harris pulls no punches. He lays out every tenet by which reformers like Martin Luther lived and taught. He makes it clear why those men would risk their lives as later Protestants would as well. I found this work well-researched, an interesting story, and fast-paced. Harris puts you right into the action, showing what it would be like to attend the King’s Christmas tourney, as well as what it was like to go on pilgrimage. You walk the streets of Rome alongside Elinor and Garrett.
I give this work six out of seven pilgrim staffs and look forward to reading more of Darryl Harris’ works.
Several years ago I read and reviewed The Shack by Wm Paul Young. I hated it. In my review I said that it was a theological treatise dressed up as a novel.
This is similar in that it's very heavy on the theology, but in this case the theology isn't one person's offbeat theories but the historical reality of the Catholic church and the reformation. Also, reading it in the context of a novel really helps the reader to understand the viewpoints of those involved. We can get into the mindset of a trusting and devout Catholic woman, and also see the courage of the reformers. The story part was also well woven, if a little predictable. In other words, this is how to mix theology into a novel.
It's not an easy read, which is why it lost a star from me. In fact, it's quite unpleasant in places. I found the descriptions of cruelty to animals, and people, really difficult to read. It's not a nice book, but it is a good book.
The Reformation of Lady Elinor drew me in from the first page and held me captive until the last. Darryl Harris does an outstanding job weaving together romance, drama, suspense, adventure, and in-depth historical and sensory details. His knowledge of the Middle Ages, early Renaissance, and Protestant Reformation is exceptional and captivating. He takes the reader on a mesmerizing excursion into England and Europe during the early 16th century while building a beautiful romance between Sir Garrett Bloxham and Lady Elinor Marbury. I savored all of it and highly recommend this book without reservation. It kept me the turning pages.