Set in the Lancashire region and full of references from the local area to which I currently live, it’s such an interesting journey to read the book and to have actually SEEN the places referenced. It makes you look at the area in a slightly different way. This is one of the books to read in 2019, especially in the UK, so I was extra excited to get my hands on it, not only because of the trend, but also because the cover is oh so beautiful! Read on!
The story takes place in 1612 at Gawthorpe Hall and follows the the life of Fleetwood and Richard Shuttleworth, who in their young marriage are desperate to have a child, but within a few years, Fleetwood has already had 3 miscarriages. After finding a letter addressed to her husband from the doctor stating that she will die the next time she miscarries, she is desperate to have an heir and also to fulfill her duties as a wife. A chance meeting with a “strange girl” in the forest, impressed by her knowledge of herbs, she requests her help to bring a healthy child into the world. Set around the famous Pendle Witch Trials, in a time where people are highly suspicious of the unknown, especially anything to do with witchcraft, Fleetwood naively sets out to defend Alice’s innocence and puts her reputation, status and name on the line in order to save Alice and her own life.
“’I bet you are not afraid of anything’, I said.
‘Of course I am,’ she said, and she pulled at a loose thread in her apron. ‘I am afraid of lies.’-”
Break it Down:
Fleetwood Shuttleworth, is 17-years-old and has already had 3 miscarriages, she is in her 4th pregnancy and so scared about having another miscarriage she is desperate to accept any help she can in order to bring an heir to her husband, Richard Shuttleworth. Upon a chance meeting of Alice Grey who offers her advice for her constant illness, Fleetwood decides to hire Alice as her midwife and they soon become friends. Unfortunately, Alice ends up being at the wrong place at the wrong time and gets implicated with a group of witches and her name is given to the magistrates. Doubly unfortunate is the fact that unbeknownst to Fleetwood, she returns home to Gawthorpe Hall after Richard and her mother force her to return, only to walk Alice into a trap and she’s then arrested. For whatever reason, I hadn’t expected Fleetwood to be as outspoken or as “rebellious” as she was in the book- I suppose because the book is based in the 1600’s you expect the women to not be as bold in their beliefs, especially as they would be called witches. I was fully in awe and cheering Fleetwood on, but also scared for her safety and that of her child’s as she was adamant about saving Alice.
I have to say, I initially really liked Richard’s character, I felt that he was caring and loving towards Fleetwood and he seemed to really love her, but then finding out that he was keeping a mistress at Barton, Fleetwood’s childhood home, and that she was expecting his child- that really floored me. I kept willing her to run away, but then I had to keep reminding myself that it was the 1600’s and you couldn’t just do that- lol. He seemed to give her a lot of leeway when it came to the way she spoke to him and the actions she took- I don’t know if it’s because he’s sympathetic to the fact that she’s still quite young and spirited or if he resigned to the fact that he couldn’t really hold her down, or maybe it’s because of her pregnancy, he felt he owed her that- she seemed to be allowed a lot because he was desperate to have his heir. As the book develops and draws to an end, despite the fact that Richard seems to disappoint and in some ways betray Fleetwood on numerous occasions, it took me by surprise to find out that it was because of his bravery and fear of losing Fleetwood that he was the one to ultimately save Alice Grey’s life. Needless to say, I was impressed by how brazen Fleetwood was to fully ignore the obvious threat her long time family friend, magistrates and part of the King’s Court, Roger Nowell, and villain gave her. She ignored him, didn’t take no for an answer and did her own investigating to find out that Roger had paid people to say that Alice was a witch. I actually smiled to myself at the scene where she took Puck (her giant Mastiff dog) with her and Richard’s gun and threatened Alice’s ex to finally tell the truth and admit that he lied.
As the book enters the 4th and final section, it is revealed that Fleetwood survives the birth of their son Richard Lawrence Shuttleworth, Alice has helped to bring him into the world and has disappeared. The biggest revelation is when Fleetwood finally addresses Richard with the letter she found all those months ago, only for him to reveal that the it was really about Judith, Richard’s mistress. So some reason, the thought never crossed my mind that it would be about her, so kudos to Stacey Hall on that one.
Kind friends know and keep
Shuttleworth family motto
At the end of the book, there are some reading group questions so I thought I’d answer 3 of them:
Women are disproportionately targeted as part of the witch hunts in this period. Why do you think that was?
I think historically we live in a patriarchal society and women have always been seen as a force or as a threat, whether it be because we literally carry life or because of the power they can hold over men. But I believe the women who were targeted as witches in this era were the ones who were more outspoken or who didn’t adhere to the rules society mapped out for them. As a way to keep them in their place or to reiterate their power the notion of witchcraft was born. I do believe that some people did believe and did practice it, but I believe the majority were probably just women who knew a lot about herbs and natural remedies.
Richard is not your archetypal romantic hero, nor is he a villain. But is he more of one than the other?
As I said earlier, I initially really liked Richard’s character- his love for Fleetwood is very apparent, even in the leeway he allows her, but I’ll admit that he really angered me when he insisted on letting Roger Nowell in on things every time Fleetwood would turn to him for help. I think his need to be successful and be on the best terms with specific people within the higher social hierarchy was his goal and he didn’t really care for all the talk regarding his wife. But I also think that he felt some of the shame Fleetwood felt because he didn’t have an heir and his decisions were driven by his embarrassment over that. I think he towed the line very closely between being both a villain and a hero, but I suppose that’s like all of us in life. I just love how he was the one who ended up saving Alice Grey and then he faints!
Do you think Alice was a witch?
I love this question, mostly because it’s open to so much interpretation, but, I don’t feel like she was a witch- I think again she lived a life outside of the norm for that time and it was a very quick and easy label to put on someone in those days, especially as you needed very little evidence. But what I do think is that the fox that is constantly referenced in the book is Alice’s familiar, otherwise why would it be referenced so many times, especially the part about their eye colour. So then…maybe Alice was a witch?
I can’t even wrack my mind to think of any. This book flowed so well, it was filled with action and drama, anticipation and suspense. It had me sitting on the edge of my seat, worried about Fleetwood’s character, scared she would either die from childbirth or from being tried and hung as a witch or a witch sympathizer. So, no negatives at all.
The RnR Rating:
4.5 out of 5
Would I recommend the book?:
100% I can totally see why it was on the UK’s Sunday Times Bestseller’s List, it’s a fantastic read!
Do you like historical dramas? Have you read this book? Let us know what you thought and if you agree or disagree with our review.
I don’t think I could love an area more than I love the beauty of Scotland! It made me feel like I was back in Montreal! The views, the colour of the trees and the landscape was so transfixing. Though it wasn’t a long trip, we managed to fit in a lot of different activities and I think we got to see a nice variety for both the adults and the kids. On top of that, made sure I had a lovely cocktail, so win win win for me. Check out what we packed in on our short trip.
Day 1: We didn’t get up to much as we spent most of the day driving the 4 hours to Perth where we were staying. We set off at about 10, took an hour long break in Carlisle and then cruised up to Perth. It was such a lovely relaxing ride, I can’t complain about the UK highways, they’re very clear and simple. When we got to our hotel and met up with the rest of the family who had also made the journey up, it was just the perfect time to head out and get something to eat. We had a nice, relaxed meal and then went back to the hotel and rested.
Day 2 We woke to a lovely sunny, but cold Scottish day, after breakfast at the hotel, we then took a drive to Aberfeldy in Perthshire and then we eventually went to The Scottish Crannock Centre and learnt about the lifestyle of Scottish people during the Iron Age. We even got to go inside a crannock and learnt how they were very ingenuous when it came to creating fires. We then went on a gorgeous drive along Queen’s View drive and took in the beauty that was Queen’s view. We then went into Pitlochry to grab something to eat and then headed to the Enchanted Forest. Though it was a cold night, we had a lovely time, experiencing all of the interesting lights and light shows, we would totally recommend visiting if you can- take up the opportunity!
Day 3 After recovering from all the walking we did the previous day, we took it easy and made our way to Scone Palace, but unfortunately the maze and any of the activities for the kids were closed as they were setting up for their Halloween celebration. So, we had to think on our feet and instead decided to make our way to the area of St. Andrew and grabbed a quick lunch. We then took the kids to Craigtoun Park, where they played for ages and attempted to stage a family shot of all of us, which I think we nailed. But not before, we had an adult fall off a branch, close up pics of a kids hand and many, many outtakes. We finally enticed the kids to head to the beach. So we made our way to St Andrew’s Beach where the kids literally ran into the freezing water and mine ran in with her shoes! Lol. We then had a lovely meal in St. Andrew’s centre and then headed home.
Day 4 Today was a very special someone’s birthday, after being surprised with balloons and lots of LOL fun, we had the prospect of the drive back home. We didn’t get up to much tourism ourselves, but the other branch of our family stopped at Stirling Castle and checked that out, but we decided after opening presents, to hit the road to get that out of the way. As I did the driving, I don’t have photos, but if I could print images from my mind, I would have oh so many shots. It’s such a beautiful stretch of motorway to drive on- it’s one of my favourites.
I do it all to please you, Playing the role, I say the right things, in the right ways, Just to please you, I smile and suppress my true feelings, Just to please you, So aware and concerned about your feelings, I ignore my own, Just to please you, Bat my eyes and fake a smile, Just to please you, Shrinking myself and my self-worth, Just to please you, Believing that the way I am is the issue Just to please you, But it never ends, The list gets longer Just to please you, And you’re no happier for all my changes, Just to please you, Until I realise, I no longer know myself All just to please you
One of my favourite places to visit, for it’s natural beauty, is Scotland, I don’t know what it is, but I have a massive affinity towards it. We had a great time there over the summer and once I knew this trip was booked, I was very excited to see a different part of Scotland- this time much further north. Because it’s a bit hard to predict the weather no matter where you live, but especially in Scotland, you just know that you have to pack in order to layer up. The problem is, I don’t own many sweaters and I get very hot very quickly so this is one of the most confusing times of the year for me when it comes to packing. On this blog post, I’m going to share what I packed for our mini trip away to Perth in Scotland!
I’m one of those people, who doesn’t over pack, if anything I probably under pack. I tend to pack outfits, including underwear and then I’ll add an extra outfit in case you get dirty or something dramatic happens. Because I love dresses and when on holiday, it’s much easier and more comfortable when you’re doing a lot of walking, comfort is key for me. I don’t like over complicated and fussy outfits.
Wherever I wonder, wherever I rove. The hills of the Highlands, forever I love.
We decided to book a family trip away over the October half term, when we stumbled across a post of The Enchanted Forest, we decided we’d all like to take the kids there. It’s won loads of awards and was sold out very quickly, so we’re very lucky to get tickets! I didn’t actually pack any sweaters, because I own one hoodie from college and that’s it, so I figured I would just wing it. Brought one pair of shoes, which I would be wearing so I had nothing to pack in that regard. I chose simple outfits that could sustain lots of walking and also that I wouldn’t mind getting dirty and because it was going to be colder fashion wasn’t my main priority- lol. On top of that, I had to make an emergency stop at an outdoor store in order to buy a fleece sweater, because I couldn’t take the cold in my bones. So yes, if you head to Scotland in the fall, do pack a sweater/jumper or two, don’t do what I did. Here’s what I packed:
Jeans & floral tee
Knee length jean dress with orange tights
Brown dress with orange tights
Plaid dress/tunic with black leggings
When it comes to makeup and skin care, I am definitely what you call a minimalist packer, again because I’m on holiday I don’t want to spend ages putting my face on, so I tend to pack light. This trip, I packed my Fenty Beauty concealer (because it’s literally life changing, especially when you’re short on time), mascara (because when you don’t want to do much with your make-up but you still want to look like you put in some effort), deodorant and lotion (because duh), and contacts and my cleanser. I genuinely didn’t pack anything else when it comes to body care- oh and toothbrush and toothpaste- hello!
Well! If there’s one thing I can tell you, is to be a smart minimalist packer (lol), you might want to travel light, but what you need to be sure or at least have a fall back for the weather. And I suppose I underestimated the “type” of cold I would feel, because it felt like it was in my bones, that being said- Neveah was well bundled up, so clearly I just let myself down. 🤣 We’ve got an upcoming weekend away in London soon, so let’s see how much I learnt from this experience and hopefully pack MUCH better! Let us know about some of your packing blunders!
I feel like ever monthly roundup I’ve said how quickly the previous month has gone by, but I don’t think any of them has sped by as fast as October, but maybe it’s because we had a lot planned this month. A trip to Scotland over the 1/2 term break, a night out at the Ballet, a concert, a housewarming party to name the ones that popped into my head for this pop! Oh and how could I forget Neveah’s 6th birthday party! Bring on November so I can rest in order to be ready for the madness that is Christmas!
“Thistle Map”: This is the first few pages of the book The Familiars by Stacey Hall, I was taken aback by how beautiful it was but also so caught up in the story that when I received my bi-weekly flowers (see below’s post), and it included thistles, I KNEW I had to take a shot with it. This is the shot and I really love it, it will be included in my book review blog post because it’s so pretty and somewhat romantic. Plus, I suppose you needed to see a shot of the rose in all it’s glory.
“Rose, B&W“: A while back I decided to buy myself flowers, because well…no one else was doing it for me, so I took matters into my own hands. So every two weeks, I have flowers delivered to work and I get to be excited because I don’t know what the bouquet will look like. Because of this, I get lots of flowers to use as props, it’s a win win really. These were reaching the end of their life, so I edited it in B&W so I wouldn’t have to do any touch ups, but it does make it oh so moody as well. And yes, I do know the rose itself isn’t all that focused. You’re welcome.
“Inflatable Nessies”: We went to a Scottish Crannock, you’ll see the shot further down, and this was the view! I mean, can you ask for more?! On top of that, we spotted not one but two Nessies, so it was definitely a winner.
“Queen’s View Angle”: I have to say this place was breathtaking and I could have stayed there the whole day if it wasn’t for the cold and the crowds- two awful C words. Sometimes, when I’m in a touristy area, I don’t like being part of the crowds taking photos of the same views, in the same ways, it’s not original, so this time I piped up the courage to bend my knees a bit and take the shot with the perspective of the railing. Yes, I wanted the visual to be a bit off and love how it turned out. The mix of unfocused and focused at the same time and all the while it doesn’t remove from just how beautiful the backdrop really is. Scotland really is special.
“Two Ducks on the Loch”: On our stop in Perthshire, we spotted one of the many lochs, I think this might be loch Tay, but either way we took a mini break and did some walking along the water. Nothing is cuter than two ducks, so I figured I’d capture a shot of two Scottish ducks swimming along their merry way. Nothing too special about this shot, but I figured I would include it as it breaks up from all of the landscape shots. I took.
“Red”: One of the reasons I love fall is for all of the colour we get treated with, the beautiful change from tree to tree is so beautiful, the Scottish trees weren’t as vibrant as the ones in Canada, but it still didn’t disappoint, I saw this tree and took a quick shot before we hoped back into the car. . .I’m not 100% a fan of this shot, because it’s not as focused as I would like it, but the vibrancy of the colours make up for it.
“Crannock”: This is a crannock, essentially a house on stilts over water, the Scottish version to the Thai/Bali style houses. We got to go inside and experience some of what life would be like if we lived in the Iron Age. It’s somewhat hard to imagine, but the staff at The Scottish Crannock Centre did a great job letting you experience and show off the tools, the food and the kind of skills they used during that period.
“Queen’s View” Does this really need a caption or a description? This is what I think of when I think Scotland. Beautiful. Simply put. This is Queen’s view, looking out towards Glencoe in the distance, but that’s all I’m going to say about that as I’m just losing myself as I stare at this shot.
Did you catch last month’s post? Check it out here.
Light, Not too heavy, overbearing or too opinionated Light, Eager to please and accommodating Light, Present, but barely leaving an impression Light, Only knowing the right things, not too much of the wrong things Light, Speaking in turn, using the right words Light, Always eager and happy to accommodate, Light