Review: The Crimson Ribbon by Katherine Clements

May 26, 2014 in Book Reviews, Fiction, General fiction, Historical Fiction

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Crimson Ribbon by Katherine ClementsThe Crimson Ribbon by Katherine Clements
Published by Headline Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

May Day 1646. The Civil War is raging and what should be a rare moment of blessing for the town of Ely takes a brutal turn. 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 solider, 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 troubles 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 the king


I hope you’re all having fantastic bank holiday weekend, whatever you are up to. I’ve been doing some reading this weekend. I finished re-reading the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R R Martin the other day. I think I possibly loved it even more on the second read through! If you haven’t read it and you enjoy the Game of Thrones TV series, or just fantasy books in general, I highly recommend reading these fantastic books.

Since I decided to immerse myself in Westeros I’m a bit behind on my reading of other books. My to-be-read (TBR) pile is ever growing and every week there are books I want to add to it!

One of the books that I have been itching to read is The Crimson Ribbon by Katherine Clements. It was released in hardback at the end of March and I was fortunate enough to be sent a review copy from the publisher, Headline. However until I finished my George R R Martin re-read I just couldn’t fit in any other books. As soon as I read that last chapter of A Dance With Dragons I knew I faced that difficult task of choosing what to read next. Whatever book I chose, it was going to have a lot to live up to. In selecting The Crimson Ribbon I was not disappointed!

The Crimson Ribbon

currently available in hardback and as ebook

This novel is set during the English Civil War. It’s not a period I’m overly familiar with. I remember studying it in history at school but many years have passed since then! Although I’ve read a fair amount of historical fiction I’d never read anything centred around this era, so for that reason I was really keen to read The Crimson Ribbon.

We follow the story of Ruth Flowers, a servant in Oliver Cromwell’s household who flees for her life when others in the town of Ely label her as a witch. In her fleeing she meets Joseph Oakes, a soldier who is also running from his past. Together they travel to London where they both appear to go their separate ways. However Joseph Oakes has a large part to play in Ruth’s story.

Clements builds this story upon an element of truth. While the protagonist Ruth is Clement’s own creation, the character of Lizzie Poole, whose service Ruth finds herself in upon arrival in London, is based around a true historical figure, Elizabeth Poole. In the Crimson Ribbon we find Poole to be a beautiful, charming lady who captures Ruth’s heart. However, like historical figure she is based upon, Poole is also a lady with radical political and religious beliefs. These beliefs lead the two ladies to the trial of the King, and the focus of witch hunters.

Katherine Clements has a degree in history, so you can be sure that her work of fiction is founded upon historical detail. She has taken the evidence of Lizzie Poole’s life and created a fantastic read that is, quite honestly, hard to put down. She uses her novel to educate as well as entertain. As I closed the novel I realised how much I had learned of the horrors of the civil war, the persecution of witches and the revolutionary political thinking of the time. I love that about this book!

As always I don’t want to say too much as I don’t want to throw any spoilers your way. What I will say is that if you are fan of historical fiction you should really check out this debut novel. I hope that Clements has many more enlightening works of fiction up her sleeve!

The Crimson Ribbon is currently available in Hardback and Ebook format.

Thank you to Headline for sending us a copy of The Crimson Ribbon for our consideration. As always any opinions expressed in this post are our own and completely honest.