A New Lease on Freedom is largely set in 1685. The ‘old King’, Charles II is
dead with no legitimate offspring and his brother comes to throne as James II.
James II has a new, young wife in Mary of Modena and there is every
likelihood that the Stuart dynasty will establish itself firmly through their children.
The only problem is that James is a Catholic. And the country is Protestant.
It might have been acceptable if James had let things lie but he could not help
himself from promoting Catholics into every type of position at his disposal. And he
built up a standing army, anathema to Seventeenth Century Englishmen.
The Duke of Monmouth, illegitimate son of Charles II, is the nearest thing the
worried Protestants have to a rival claimant.
And he is far from perfect. He is not a leader of men; he cannot inspire them
to go out of their way for a greater cause.
He lands in Lyme Regis in Dorset with a small force, hoping to build up an
army as he marches towards London.
The Davenports are based in Sturminster Newton, a sleepy market town in
North Dorset. Luke Davenport, head of the family, has an adventurous past but has
settled down as a serious Presbyterian preacher of some renown. He has four
children, of which the youngest, Thomas and Grace, are by far the most wayward.
Sending them away to school does not work and they are returned home just as
Dorset and the entire West Country is to be blown apart by rebellion.
But Thomas and Grace are far more interested in tracking down their
childhood friend, Lady Merriman. This takes them on a tortured journey across the
West Country and, inevitably, they become hopelessly entangled in the rebellion
played out around them.
There are forces in the background, both national and personal, that threaten
their safety and bring them to the brink of disaster. As Monmouth’s rebellion
collapses in confusion and battle, they are engulfed in danger and have to find a way
This period of History is instrumental in the forging of modern England. Issues
such as religious toleration, Parliamentary democracy and individual rights thread
through the book, both frustrating and assisting personal goals and ambitions.
I believe it is a much-neglected period of our History when war, religion, rapid
constitutional development, scientific discovery and social change all create a
backdrop for drama and excitement.
In 1685, England was a young, immature country. A hundred years later it
was rich and powerful, striding across the world with thrust and daring. But it need
not have been so and the seeds of success were planted long ago.
The story of the Davenports in Dorset continues with It Takes a Rogue, also
released on April 12 th .
The third book in the series, One Good Turn, builds on the wider family and
the role they play in the emergence of modern England.