The story of Verity is beautifully written and deals with a woman who made choices as a young lady that led her to a marriage where her own dreams were put on hold to raise her family and grow a business. She had an artistic soul and wanted to be like her father and be a landscape painter but went into interior design as a way to make a living.
Before her marriage, she met a man named Edward who was a free spirit. She was attracted to him but ultimately made the decision to marry a man named Matt. A man who subsumed her and her spirit.
The journey of Verity as she approaches fifty and becomes an empty nester is the bulk of the book. She and her husband live in London in the Fulham area. They had discussed for many years moving to the countryside when their children left home so she could follow her dream of being a painter. Now that the time is at hand, her husband is balking at the idea.
While I enjoyed the beautiful prose of the author and the story was well-told, (Ms. Loudon’s also has a lovely gift for description), I absolutely hated the character of Matt. And got pretty annoyed at Verity for her personality and how she allowed him to get away with treating her as he did. I don’t want to give any spoilers so I’ll leave it at that.
I did begin to skim through some of the story as I was so upset over the relationship between Verity and her husband. I think my own strong personality and innate sense of justice led me to the anger I felt for her and at him and that may have interfered with my 100% enjoyment of the story.
If you like stories of women finding themselves even at a later time in their lives, this one could be right up your alley. It didn’t fully sit well with me but it was well written and for the right reader, it’s probably a gem.
This novel is based on and inspired by the real life bravery of a Scottish countess in 1715. Her name was Winifred Maxwell, Countess of Nithsdale. She saved her husband from certain death by smuggling him out of the Tower.
The character in the book is Bethan Glentaggert, Countess of Clarencefield. When she was a child, her family fled to France with King James II (A Stuart king) when William of Orange and Queen Mary (Stuarts) took the throne. Her family was Catholic and lived in exile for many years. She married at age 27 and moved to Scotland with her husband. They lived happily for a while, having three children, but eventually, when the first Jacobite rebellion (to restore James to the throne) occurred, her husband joined in, taking many of his tenants with him into battle.
With the rebels’ loss at Preston, her husband was taken prisoner and held in the Tower of London awaiting trial. The countess sent her children to safety and traveled to London to try to save her husband.
We, as readers, make the journey with her. Through a terrible winter storm. One of the worst in years. The author did an excellent job with the descriptions and the travails of the trip. A lesser woman might have given up. The countess had to leave her companion at one point and continue on her own. As a modern day woman, I can’t even imagine how scary that was—first, with the weather and then when alone, worrying about cutthroats and robbers. A woman alone was very vulnerable, but she persevered.
Once she arrives in London, she visits her husband in the Tower and gets him legal counsel to try to fight the treason charges. She also tries to plead to the king to let him go free. She hatches a back-up plan to try to save him if the legal case doesn’t go well.
The book was full of historical details and the author did an excellent job of painting the reader a picture of the era. It was as if we were there with the intrepid countess in the snow and in the Tower. The feeling of fear she felt for her husband and what would happen to him read very real.
The only disappointment I had with the book was the ending. I wanted more information about what happened when the countess joined her husband at the culmination of her brave and daring plan. I guess I’ll have to read one of the books in the bibliography at the end of the novel to learn more about the real life lady who took on the British establishment.