I’ll start this review by saying that The Crimson Ribbon by Katherine Clements* was one of the most beautifully written books that I’ve read this year. It had an amazing flow and rhythm that just made it such a pleasant read that I flew through it. The fact that Katherine is the developer of the Creative Writing A-level gives me hope for a new generation of writers. Anyway, on with the book review.
England 1646. The Civil War is raging and society turned upside down.
What should be a rare moment of blessing for the town of Ely takes a brutal turn and 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 deserting 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.
Based on the real figure of the extraordinary Elizabeth Poole, The Crimson Ribbon conjures a mesmerising story of two women’s obsession, superstition and hope.
Everything about this book is right. I could gush over how amazing the writing is for hours but the story, the characters and the LGBT+ aspect; everything is well done. So I’m just going to focus on a few things that really stood out to me as a reader and as a Creative Writing student.
Firstly, I have rarely been so gripped by the first twenty pages of a book. My snapchats I was sending out as I read are a testament to that. Go to a bookstore, sit and read for ten minutes and I can almost guarantee you will buy the book.
I’m not much of a historical fiction reader because I don’t have a wide knowledge of history but consider me converted. Based in the time of Cromwell and Charles the 1st, even though I know almost nothing about this era but the book is easy to follow and has sparked an interest of this time in me.
Our main character, Ruth, is a really lovely first person narrator that you really get attached to and even if her decisions may always not be the best, you can see clearly why she does everything she does and she grows throughout the book.
And lastly, the story. I was expecting a witchy tale and I got so much more. Human nature, fear, love, politics, war. Hand on my heart, I was genuinely amazed at how this book packed so much into 300+ pages. I’m going to have such a book hangover from this in the best way.
Enough gushing? Enough gushing. I really recommend this book and can’t wait to see what Katherine Clements does next. And don’t forget to read Katherine’s piece on why she developed the first A-level in Creative Writing here!
**This post contains Amazon affiliate links which means if you buy anything from the links, I get a few pennies at no extra cost to you. Pretty neat, huh?