Author: Anne Blankman
Publication: Balzer + Bray (May 3, 2016)
Description: A romantic and exhilarating historical adventure about a girl who must unlock the secrets within Paradise Lost to save her father—perfect for fans of Revolution and Code Name Verity—from acclaimed author Anne Blankman, whose debut novel, Prisoner of Night and Fog, was a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teens in 2015
Six years have passed since England’s King Charles II returned from exile to reclaim the throne, ushering in a new era of stability for his subjects.
Except for Elizabeth Milton. The daughter of notorious poet John Milton, Elizabeth has never known her place in this shifting world—except by her father’s side. By day she helps transcribe his latest masterpiece, the epic poem Paradise Lost, and by night she learns languages and sword fighting. Although she does not dare object, she suspects that he’s training her for a mission whose purpose she cannot fathom.
Until one night the king’s men arrive at her family’s country home to arrest her father. Determined to save him, Elizabeth follows his one cryptic clue and journeys to Oxford, accompanied by her father’s mysterious young houseguest, Antonio Viviani, a darkly handsome Italian scientist who surprises her at every turn. Funny, brilliant, and passionate, Antonio seems just as determined to protect her father as she is—but can she trust him with her heart?
When the two discover that Milton has planted an explosive secret in the half-finished Paradise Lost—a secret the king and his aristocratic supporters are desperate to conceal—Elizabeth is faced with a devastating choice: cling to the shelter of her old life, or risk cracking the code, unleashing a secret that could save her father . . . and tear apart the very fabric of society.
My Thoughts: This historical fiction story is set in England in 1666. Charles II is on the throne and Cromwell's government is disbanded. The narrator is Elizabeth Milton, daughter of John, who is determined to protect her blind father from being executed by Charles for his role in Cromwell's government. She had been educated as a boy, learning languages and sword-fighting, and she acts as her father's secretary as he is writing Paradise Lost. When a young man arrives from Italy to speak to her father a chain of events begins that will shake her world.
Antonio Viviani is a student of Vincenzo Viviani who was a student of Galileo and a noted mathematician in Italy. In this story, Milton met Galileo when he was a young man and Galileo shared with him a secret that could topple kings and discredit the Church. Milton has hidden clues to the secret in his poetry and in Paradise Lost. When the king has Milton imprisoned, it is up to Elizabeth and Antonio to solve the hidden clues and convince the king to spare Milton.
Antonio and Elizabeth are aided by Robert, Duke of Lockton, Charles II's oldest illegitimate son. Robert convinces them that he is on their side and eager to keep his father from gaining control of Galileo's discovery which he fears will make his father a tyrant. But Robert has a hidden agenda of his own which leaves Elizabeth trying to decide who she can trust.
I enjoyed this story about a young woman who has her cherished beliefs shattered and who has to remake her own reality to conform to new information. I enjoyed the historical setting and the glimpses of non-fictional personages of the day - Samuel Pepys, Robert Boyle, and Robert Hooke, among them. I enjoyed being able to immerse myself in the worldview of the time when the Bible was held as the literal truth and science was in its infancy. I also enjoyed the romance that grew between Elizabeth and Antonio.
Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this engaging story.
All afternoon, I had been reflecting on Galileo's discovery, poking at it as I would with a wound, my fingers soft and hesitant. I had been taught that every passage in the Bible contained incontrovertible truths. To think otherwise was sacrilege. Galileo's story could divide hearts and empires, bring governments crashing down and crack the Church in two. If Antonio and Robert were right and the answers to divine mysteries were rooted in natural philosophy, then every piece in our carefully constructed world would unravel, like threads in a tapestry, leaving a half-formed picture.I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.