This Rough Beginning by Pamela Hill (Robert Hale, £6.95).
THOSE WHO speculate. upon how modern Catholics (or indeed Christians generally) would bear persecution for the faith will find much in this novel to help them form an opinion.
It tells the story of Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel, courtier of the first Elizabeth, canonised saint, and co-patron of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. He is honoured as a martyr, since he died in the Tower of London, when under sentence of death. According to a former bishop, the Catholics of "A & B" have a higher average IQ than those of any other diocese, so one much expect any future persecutor to pay them special attention.
Pamela Hill narrates the events of Philip Howard's career competently and sympathetically. If the political cross-currents seem confusing to the reader that is probably how they seemed at the time. Philip's relationship with his wife is handled with tact and delicacy. The atmosphere of fear and suspicion at Elizabeth's court is conveyed with telling effect.
Unfortunately the story is told in an archaic and mannered style which eventually becomes rather trying. This is especially noticeable in the dialogue. Admittedly this is a controverted point. It would no doubt be false to make the characters talk the colloquial English of the 1980s.
Nevertheless, this novel, the first on its subject, as far as I know, since Mrs Wilfrid Ward's Tudor Sunset came out fifty years ago, will give pleasure to many. It would make an excellent Christmas present for anyone who thinks that Elizabeth 1 was a Good Thing. and her reign a golden age.
R. W. Richardson