Page Count: 448
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Reading Format: Audiobook download provided by the publisher for consideration
Audiobook Published by: Hachette Audio
Narrator: Juliet Stevenson
Audiobook Length: 13 hours 10 minutes
Available Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, and Audiobook
Summary from the Publisher:
Honor Harris is only eighteen when she first meets Richard Grenvile, proud, reckless – and utterly captivating. But following a riding accident, Honor must reconcile herself to a life alone. As the English Civil war is waged across the country, Richard rises through the ranks of the army, marries and makes enemies, and Honor remains true to him.
Decades later, an undaunted Sir Richard, now a general serving King Charles I, finds her. Finally they can share their passion in the ruins of her family’s great estate on the storm-tossed Cornish coast-one last time before being torn apart, never to embrace again.
I had absolutely no idea what this book was about when I started reading. Knowing that du Maurier had written it and that Stevenson had narrated it was enough. Unlike the other novels I’ve read, this is historical fiction based during the time of the English Civil War. Honor Harris, the main character, is a strong willed woman who gets involved with Sir Richard Grenville, a General for Charles I, against the advice and wishes of her family. Early on in their relationship, Honor suffers a tragic riding accident that leaves her paralyzed. The Honor we meet is the older, wiser Honor reflecting back on her life and times.
After doing a little research, the initial spark for the novel, which was published in 1946, was the discovery of human remains of one wearing the clothing of a Cavalier were found when renovating Menabiliy, her home and one of the settings for the novel. The King’s General was criticized at the time for having modernized the way that the characters acted and spoke, but this posed no problem for me whatsoever. Listening to this audiobook reminded me of what I loved so much about historical fiction, it takes me out of my current time and place and takes me back in time to the place I’m visiting in my reading. It enriches my imagination and makes me want to learn more about the people and places. I felt like Honor’s companion and I didn’t want to leave her, even when the novel ended. If the critics are correct, that place I visited wasn’t authentic, but I couldn’t have been happier with the experience. These are people I wanted to play cards with, people I wanted to help foil, and people I loved to hate. I was fully engaged with their journey from the first.
Juliet Stevenson. Like Simon Vance, I feel like I’ve praised her work from dawn to dusk and it will never be enough. She played no small role in sending me to Honor’s side. As much as I loved her narration of Honor and Richard, it was her Gartred that delighted me the most. I loved to hate her and that feeling is one I’ve always found so satisfying. Stevenson gives those characters just the right sizzle. Even if I had been bored with the story, I would have continued listening waiting for the next appearance of Gartred. The only thing that wasn’t clear to me as I listened to The King’s General was Honor’s name. Through much of the audiobook I thought her name was Anna. Both names suited the character in my opinion and my ear just didn’t pick up the subtle difference.
Bottom line: If you enjoy British-based historical fiction, Daphne du Maurier, or just an amazing audiobook, I would highly recommend The King’s General.