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Against the background of an England torn by civil war, religious persecution, and political treachery in the turbulent era of Cromwell and the Stuart Restoration, Philippa Carr has set the passionate story of Arabella Tolworthy, whose loves and destiny are inextricably linked to the plight of her nation.
The dethroned Charles I had met the executioner’s ax with regal calm, and as Oliver Cromwell tightened his Puritan grip on English church and state, thousands of royalists fled their confiscated lands. Among them was young Arabella, her family seeking safe harbor in France where they hoped to serve the exiled royal heir, Charles II. Separated from her parents, confronted by the unaccustomed hardships of political banishment, she finds solace in the company or the ravishing and charismatic actress, Harriet Main. Little does Arabella suspect the threat Harriet will pose to her future happiness.
Nor does she envision the tragedy that lies ahead when dashing Edwin Eversleigh, Cavalier and heir to a titular fortune, makes her his bride after a whirlwind courtship. For in the deceptive peace following Parliament’s Restoration of the Crown, a widowed Arabella returns to England bearing a new scion of the Eversleigh estate.
Suddenly, her quiet devotion to the memory of her beloved is shattered by the arrival of Edwin’s cousin Carleton, whose bitterness at being deprived of his inheritance seemingly only Arabella can allay. The reappearance at Eversleigh Court of the conniving Harriet further jeopardizes Arabella’s spiritual bond with the past. Only amidst the cataclysmic suffering wrought by St. Giles Plague and the Great London Fire does Arabella find courage enough for a personal renewal, which may help her make her sepatate peace with England.