Monday, 6 October 2014

Book Review: The Crimson Ribbon

The Crimson Ribbon
Author: Katherine Clements

Publisher: Headline Review (27 Mar 2014)
ISBN: 978-1472204196

From the back cover:

Based on the real figure of the fascinating Elizabeth Poole, The Crimson Ribbon is the mesmerising story of two women's obsession, superstition and hope.

May Day 1646. The Civil War is raging and what should be a rare moment of blessing for the town of Ely takes a brutal turn. Ruth Flowers is left with little choice but to flee the household of Oliver Cromwell, the only home she has ever known. On the road to London, Ruth sparks an uneasy alliance with a soldier, the battle-scarred and troubled Joseph. But when she reaches the city, it's in the Poole household that she finds refuge.

Lizzie Poole, beautiful and charismatic, enthrals the vulnerable Ruth, who binds herself inextricably to Lizzie's world. But in these troubled times, Ruth is haunted by fears of her past catching up with her. And as Lizzie's radical ideas escalate, Ruth finds herself carried to the heart of the country's conflict, to the trial of a king.

My Review:

Well where to start on this review...firstly I am actually really fascinated by Oliver Cromwell because my local area is steeped in history, he was born not far from where I live and there is still a museum in that town. Of course living in Cambridgeshire and Oliver Cromwell living in Ely, we can't all help but be a little bit interested in this intriguing man and the time that he lived in for of course the antics and politics of Oliver Cromwell helped to shape the England that we live in now. Being a bit of an Oliver Cromwell enthusiasts I was slightly skeptical on reading this book as I thought it might not live up to the expectations that I had. I was of course, wrong!

The book is largely based on the events of the time although some of the characters and events are fictitious but you don't actually know which is what until you have finished the book and you find at the end a segment that tells us all about who the real Elizabeth Poole was, as the author describes:

"The real Elizabeth Poole is a shadowy figure; like many women of th early modern era the details of her life must be pieced together using fragments in the historical record."

I found this book to be really gripping and I really warmed to many of the characters. The character of Ruth is shy and demur, always wanting to please those around her and do what is best or what is right. This type of character is quite difficult to pull off without making them seem pathetic and in my opinion the author managed to pull this off well with me really routing for Ruth and just wanting to see her safe.

At the beginning of the book we see poor Ruth loosing her mother, who was wrongly accused of witchcraft and because of this, Ruth herself had to flee Ely and Oliver Cromwell's house in order to save her own life. We follow Ruth on her journey to London to live with the Poole's and what her life then becomes. Ruth is the lead character in the book with Elizabeth coming a close second for it is the acts of Elizabeth that shape Ruth's life and the events that happen to Ruth.  Ruth is incredibly loyal and throws her heart and soul into everything she does and in return she just wants to be loved and protected.

I don't want to say too much more about the actual plot as I think that might ruin it for you if you wanted to read it. It really was an amazing novel, the author manages to weave true historical events intertwined with fiction so that you really do not know which is what. Everything is just so convincing. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and reccommend it to anyone who like historical fiction or someone who just fancies a gripping and interesting book to read.


  1. I am definitely going to be getting this for my kindle. xx

    1. I would love to know what you think of it, we could have our own little book club ; )