Dorothy Forster: A NovelDorothy Forster: A Novel by Walter Besant
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This historical novel in three volumes was considered by the author (a contemporary of Charles Dickens) to be one of his best works. Although the books may be hard to find, I downloaded all three volumes from Google books to my computer and my Kindle.

Told in the first person of Dorothy Forster, it is the story of the northern English Jacobites and the ill-fated rebellion of 1715, in which they attempted to restore James III (House of Stuart) back to the English throne. It is another impeccably researched historical novel, although Besant takes a bit of license by incorporating romanticized anectodes regarding the Earl of Derwentwater to include the supernatural (ghosts and premonitions)

Dorothy Forster is the younger sister of Protestant Jacobite, Thomas Forster, an M.P. for Northumberland who got caught up in the Jacobite Uprising.

The Forsters are cousins to the Radcliffes of Dilston, a very prominent Catholic family headed by the young nobleman James Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater. Lord Derwentwater also had the distinction of being a grandson of Charles II (albeit illegitimately) through actress Moll Davis. He also spent the majority of his boyhood in exile with James III until returning to England to claim his birthright. The Radcliffes were closely tied to the Stuarts by both blood and religion and were early to come under suspicion for treason against George I, although this novel portrays James Radcliffe as extremely reluctant to rise to a cause he feels is doomed to failure.

When the Jacobite army under the nominal command of Thomas Forster, surrenders at Preston, the Earl comments dismally that they would all be best transported to Bethleham Hospital (Bedlam).

I found this classic novel a historically accurate and bitter-sweet tragedy of love, honor and fidelity.

I would recommend this to history lovers. 3.5 stars

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