I hope the summer is treating you well. I have had a few visits to the sea which is always good.
Today, I am sharing a review for Farewell to a Friend by Steven Turner-Bone, a local writer. It is always uplifting to read a book with connections to places you know; the shared link helps immerse you into the story and bond with characters. The Mathew Fletcher novels began in Beverley, East Yorkshire which is one of my local towns and now every time I visit I recall snippets of his life.
This is the third book in the series and the main character, Mathew Fletcher, a surgeon has moved down the country to Shrewsbury.
Book Review: Farewell to a Friend by Steven Turner-Bone
Title: Farewell to a Friend
Author: Steven Turner-Bone
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release date: 3rd July 2018
King Charles has raised his standard at Nottingham declaring war against his parliament and consequently his own people. Mathew and his friends are caught up in the middle of it all. Mathew refuses to give up his search for the last of the murderers of his beloved Elizabeth and so they must all follow the King as he crosses the country enlarging his army.
The road Mathew now travels leads him to Shrewsbury and his showdown with John Franks, but whoever it was that said ‘vengeance is sweet’ had never tried to kill anyone, let alone a ruthless murderer.
Changes take place within Mathew’s group of friends as they learn Shrewsbury is not to be their final destination and that the Earl of Essex, with a large parliamentarian army, is in close pursuit.
Torn between returning home and following his career as surgeon to the King, Mathew has to make decisions that will inevitably change his own life and affect the outcome of the civil war in England.
It has been a while since I read the first novel, Friends and Enemies so I was grateful for the recap in the first couple of chapters. Set in 1642 amidst the English Civil war between the Royalists and Parliamentarians, fiction is blended with real events leading to a plot which is in places stranger than any author can believably invent.
In the first book, Mathew Fletcher finds himself moving away from his hometown, Beverley in East Yorkshire to hunt for three men who slain the love of his life. The need for revenge led him to be a spy and work as a surgeon for the military. This book follows him as he moves down the country where he finds himself pulled in different directions by his ambition, revenge, political pressure and desire to go home for a quiet life. I enjoyed reading the twists of his life as the consequences of his initial decision to take revenge unfold and how it develops his character.
As with many historical novels, there are many personalities in the background driving the story forward. They are crucial because a decision made from the King or leader of the opposition can have a big impact on the plot so there is a complex web of people to remember. There were times I became confused by which side people were on but I believe this is more to do with brain fog and unfamiliarity with history than anything else. Once I reconnected with Mathew and his sister-in-law Mary, this did not matter. I wanted to know what happened next. Mary is one of the most fascinating characters and it is always good to catch up with her.
One thing I love about historical fiction is the ability to close the book with more knowledge than you started with. This book is no exception, Steven Turner-Bone’s passion and knowledge of the era shines through especially when it involves the medical side of Mathew’s life. This adds credence to his character, actions and story.
Would I recommend?
Yes, though I suggest you start at the beginning of the series so you are aware of the characters’ full back story. It is ideal for those interested in the local history of East Yorkshire, Shrewsbury, Warwick and the Civil War.
Steven has just released a standalone novel The Firebird Inheritance which I am eager to read after listening to several extracts. The premise surrounds a package with links to the last Russian Tsar. Why not check it out here?
Steven was born in Hull many years ago, and always loved history and stories. After having successful career in catering and IT he met his wife, Sue and started a family. Sue’s career as a computer programmer blossomed and it very quickly led to him staying home to look after the children whilst she hit the jet-set life of flying around Europe on work-related matters. He took on short term jobs whilst the kids were at school.
The family were close, so when it came to finding a hobby for them all fate came knocking, and they joined a 17th century historical re-enactment group. It added enormously to his knowledge of history, as well as them all being able to visit castles, stately homes and historical sites free of charge. It even led to him appearing as an extra in many television programmes and one film.
After being made redundant from the Probation Service as an admin clerk, and reading a novel on the English Civil War, he happened to make a comment to Sue about how poor the story was in the book.
‘Then you write one,’ came the reply. So he did, and it sold, and it kept selling, so he wrote book two, and book three, and book four, and now he is currently writing book five. Steven believes he has found what he was destined to do with his life and he loves it.
Thank you Steven Turner-Bone for a copy of your book so I could give my honest and unbiased review.