Framed: A Historical Novel about the Revolt of the Luddites
By: Christy Fearn
Format/Source: eBook courtesy of the author via LibraryThing Early Reviewer Programme
As French émigré Roman Catholics, Lizette Molyneux and her brother Robert are used to an existence on the edge of their Regency Nottingham community. But when Robert is arrested for a crime he insists he did not commit, Lizzie must draw on all her strength and courage to help him. Overcoming poverty, prejudice and the unwanted advances of her employer’s son, she unites with the frame-breaking Luddites to free her brother and to rectify social injustice.
I received a copy of this novel through the LibraryThing Early Reviewer Programme in exchange for an honest review. What caught my attention about this novel was the premise; I was never big on the sociopolitical movements in Britain (which is strange since it’s tied up to its political history) but this story seemed set in a curious period of its history so naturally I was also curious. May contain some spoilers ahead!
Again, I thought the period that this piece was set in was interesting. Normally books set in the Regency period are either romantic comedies a la Georgette Heyer or war and political historical novels about the Napoleonic Wars. This novel shows a different side of the period, focusing on characters at the lower rungs of the social structure, the disenfranchised, those who live in poverty. While some of the events of the novel do bring this aspect of the story out, I wish there had been more focus on it because at times I forgot that Lizzie and Robert were from the lower levels of society. The social injustices mentioned in the blurb could have been more prominent; instead, it felt relegated to the background at times. Then there’s the epilogue/commentary at the end that felt added on at the last minute.
Additionally, I wished the author had expanded on Lizzie and Robert’s relationship with others in the community. They are Roman Catholic emigres living in a Protestant country; I can’t remember when exactly did the British government and society begin to ease off a little about their suspicion against Catholicism but I reckon the social prejudice is still very rampant against Catholicism (just look at some of Charlotte Bronte’s works written much later from this period). There was some hints of fear and stigma against Lizzie but otherwise it was not explored just how big a community there was living in England at the time and how they fit in to society.
The novel was pretty easy to get through, the language accessible. At times though it felt a little too modern. I also found myself wondering midway through the novel where the plot was heading; when Lizzie met Lord Byron (the Lord Byron), it started reading more as a romance novel than anything else. I suppose it was a way to bring and tie him to the story (plus it was a nice break from Robert’s predicament) but I had to actively suspend my belief here, despite not knowing too much about Byron’s activities during this time.
Framed overall was an okay read with plenty of promise but at the end I found myself wondering what exactly was I supposed to get out of the novel. Characters and certain themes could have been more fleshed out but events more or less tied up neatly at the end. It was a quick read but it held my attention.
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