My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’m trying to finish this series by the end of the year. I read the first few books when I was a teenager and I held a bit of nostalgia for the series. Up to this point, I don’t really feel like the series has held up over time, but it’s still a good series. It’s Christian historical fiction set during the rise of Protestantism in England. In this particular book, it’s set during the reign of King Charles II, after the death of Oliver Cromwell. This was a point in history when the Royalists (who lost the Civil War to the Parliamentarians) return to England and come into power.
As far as the fictional family, the Wakefields, the author seems to be moving away from the steady father to son legacy that is found in the first three books. In the last book, the Morgan family (distant relative from Wales) made their first appearance, and they take up a good amount of the plot in this book. In addition to that, we are introduced to Jenny Clairmont, another person from Wales and follow her story which intertwines with the Wakefields and Morgans. Also, Morris includes whole chapters on the actual historical figure John Bunyan.
The author seemed to really be a fan of John Bunyan. He even includes some excerpts of Bunyan’s writing in his own story (although to be fair, he also includes some poetry and Shakespearean excerpts as well). This book, however, focused a lot on Bunyan, and with the addition of Jenny’s story and the Morgans, the Wakefields took a bit of a backseat.
The writing, like in the previous books, was flowery and a bit convoluted. We had to hear about everything they ate or wore, what every person looked like and whether they were attractive or not. I found myself skimming those parts, really just wanting to get on with the story. I understand he was building the world, but I just wasn’t interested in every beef broth they ate.
Still, the plot was interesting. Following the independent preachers as they were thrown in jail and then how they overcame was really interesting. I don’t know how much fiction was added to it, but it will give me new perspective when I read a Pilgrim’s Progress again.
Overall, it’s okay. I do enjoy the history, but the writing is only so-so. Nostalgically, it’s been a good ride so far.