Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Oak Staircase by Mary Lee

The Oak Stair case: Or The Stories Of Lord And Lady Desmond
Mary Lee
copyright 1872, 287 pages

Note: This is a FREE public domain book-you can download and read it yourself HERE.

My Review:
I downloaded this book simply because I liked the cover and with "Lord and Lady" in the title, I figured it was historical in nature.

The Oak Staircase was a harrowing and well written Young Adult Historical Fiction loosely based on a true event.  The "Maids Of  Taunton" and the  'Bloody Assizes' following the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685.

This was an exciting and unknown historical period for me, and one that so fascinated me from the story that I researched it after finishing the book. You can learn more about this period HERE and HERE

The period was one of the bloodiest in England and while the book does not go into the gorier details, the writer was talented enough that you will feel the terror these poor young girls must have felt during this time. 

The story is told in the vein of a almost bedtime story. It starts with two young descendants of Lord and Lady Desmond-who walk by their portraits on the Oak Staircase at the family estate many times, but know nothing about them. Their Uncle Algernon -who is writing a historical work, tells them of Lord and Lady Desmond's story, as though they had "come" to Algernon after death to share it with them. The story is told from the perspective of when Lord/Lady Desmond were children of 10 and 14, as this is when they were married (an event that happened sometimes to make an advantageous marriage amongst two noble families).

From Frances and Algernon's (Lord Desmond was also named Algernon) marriage, to Frances being sent to the boarding school which is to change her life forever, to Algernon's stint as one of the Queen's Page Boy attendants, The Oak Staircase was a fascinating, compelling read.

Don't let the fact that it's classified as Young Adult stop you from reading this. I didn't even realize it was young adult until after I finished it, and in no way hinders the stories believability or dealing with the dire aspects of the storyline. I'd recommend this to anyone, especially fans of Historical Fiction.

5 stars.

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