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A Noble Cunning

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The Countess of Clarencefield, Bethan Glentaggart, a Catholic living among the pagans of Protestantism, is the subject of the book. Even when the thugs of London tried to raid her Heath Hall house one night in search of priests hiding in the building, she was forbidden from displaying any signs of fear or weakness. When William of Orange invaded England, she and her family fled to France, and Lucy became their closest friend. She was married to Gavin, the Earl of Clarencefield and Baron Cleughbrae, who was also a Catholic. It appeared unavoidable that the Church of England and Catholics would go to war. The Jacobite Rebellion began in 1715 as a result of the death of Queen Anne and the following coronation of King George of Hanover, the first and only German-born monarch of England. 

Gavin immediately left Heath Hall to join his fellow citizens in the fight for Catholics' right to practice their religion freely and to remove George of Hanover from the English crown. 

Gavin was captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Thankfully, Gavin was able to inform his wife, Bethan, the Countess, of his whereabouts. She was urged to travel to London as soon as feasible by him. Bethan was told by Gavin to bring as much cash as she could. Gavin would need her assistance in requesting his release. The Countess's greatest dread had materialized.

The Countess came up with a strategy to save Gavin. Her committed group of female friends provided extensive assistance. Even though it was a wonderful strategy, nothing had to go wrong for her to succeed in saving Gavin's life. The day before Gavin was supposed to be put to death, the Countess intended to carry it out. Was she, together with her strong female pals, up to the task? Would the Countess's strategy be able to prevent the death of her cherished husband?

This book,  A Noble Cunning, is a Christian historical fiction that focuses mainly on how the war between Catholics and Protestants prevailed since the olden times,  I enjoyed the thought-provoking bible verses the author quoted in the beginning chapters of the book. 

A must-read for historical fiction readers as the author has put in the effort to well research the true events. Thanks to NetGalley and Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an advance copy of my honest review
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Bethan Glentaggart and her husband Gavin live in Scotland in 1716, a dangerous time for Catholics.  As they fight to simply practice their religion in peace, a new King takes the throne in England, King George. King George is German and Protestant, many people feel that he is unfit to rule.  Gavin takes up the Jacobite cause against King George and is later captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London.  Bethan learns of his imprisonment and makes her way to London in order to fight for her husband's life.  

Based on the true story of Winifred Maxwell, A Noble Cunning is the fictionalized version of her feats.  The writing captured me in the first chapter as the effects of the religious persecution in the area were shown. I was immediately captured by Bethan's character as she kept her wits about her and refused to be the broken and weak woman that everyone expected her to be.  Bethan's love for her family, home and religion shine.  The pace of the story picks up after Gavin is captured and Bethan makes her way to London to eventually devise a plan of escape from the Tower of London.  I love the thoughtful, long term process that Bethan proposed as well as all of the other women and family that banded together to aid her quest.  The ending wrapped up rather quickly and I would have loved to know more details of what happened afterwards. 

 This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
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When Jacobite leaders Mar, Winton, and Derwentwater arrive at the Glentaggart home, Bethan knows immediately that her husband, Gavin, a staunch Catholic, will rally to the cause.

As evidenced by an early scene of violence by Covenanters, Bernstein not only pulls us into the Glentaggarts’ world, but makes sure we are fully on board with Gavin’s decision to fight. When he is arrested during the aftermath of the 1715 Uprising, and sent to the Tower, Bethan travels to London through perilous winter storms, determined to beg for clemency and free her husband.

When Queen Anne died in 1714, many eligible heirs to the English throne were passed over for the Protestant Hanoverian, George. England and Scotland became hotbeds of dissent and religious oppression. This is a fictionalised story of one Catholic family whose loyalty to James II and his progeny leads to persecution and vengefulness. The story is based on a complex plan, conjured in real life by Winifred Maxwell, Countess of Nithsdale, to free her Jacobite husband from the Tower, using a group of women enacting an elaborate charade.

Everything Culloden intrigues me, and there is little fiction about the trouble which gave rise to that epic tragedy. But nothing happens in a vacuum. Bernstein’s novel is packed with period detail about the Jacobites, religious controversy, the Hanoverian court, and bizarre, eyebrow-raising etiquette and costume. A Noble Cunning is a riveting read using daring, bravery, commitment, honor, and a generous portion of faith and ingenuity. In short, it’s got everything a historical adventure needs. And romance? I wonder what could be more romantic than riding hell-bent for London to save your husband from the jaws of death. A gripping story, all the more so because someone once loved enough to attempt it! Hard to put this one down.
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Extraordinary story! Bernstein showcases a keen ability for storytelling in this debut novel. In what seems to be nothing short of unfathomable, Bernstein unveils the true tale of a woman who defied the odds to save her husband from the Tower of London. Although this book could very easily have fallen into a quagmire of facts, Bernstein ensured that the raw emotions and personalities came through in each of the novel's characters. Through the remarkable life of the main character Bethan Glentaggart, readers experience the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, the persecution of Catholics in both Scotland and London, and the ingenious plan to escape the formidable Tower of London. Just when I think I've read all the "good" stuff, someone brings to light a story that sucks me in and makes me appreciate the never ending amount of historical documents that have yet to be sifted through. 

Thank you to History Through Fiction and NetGalley for a copy of this title.
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This book… I’m still at a loss for words. Such a beautiful, powerful and emotional story. THIS BOOK IS AMAZING!!!
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Based on the true story of Winifred Maxwell, Countess of Nithsdale, that Patricia Bernstein learned about on a visit to Traquair House in the Scottish borders, A Noble Cunning paints a picture of life in the years leading up to the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion and its aftermath. Bethan Glentaggart, Countess of Clarencefield, and her family are staunch supporters of the Stuarts, but are now living under the rule of George 1 where it is forbidden to worship as a Catholic. 
The rebellion is not a success and her husband Gavin is imprisoned in the Tower of London sentenced to death. With no time to spare, and only her companion Lucy for protection, Bethan undertakes a perilous journey through an atrocious snowstorm to reach London and try to save her husband. King George shows no mercy, so Bethan and her allies have no choice but to take matters into their own hands. The plan is ingenious, but can they pull it off in time to save Gavin from certain death?
A Noble Cunning is full of intrigue and suspense, with well-drawn characters and a strong sense of place and time. Despite a slow start, and a lot of historical detail woven through the narrative, I was never tempted to give up as I found the story compelling and wanted this brave and resourceful woman to succeed. I was slightly disappointed at the abruptness of the ending as I would have liked to know what happened next. The historical notes at the end of the book are well worth reading for those keen to know more, and to find out which parts of the story were actually true. Thanks to NetGalley and History Through Fiction for a digital copy that I review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT
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A Noble Cunning is a historical fiction novel inspired by the real life of Winnifred Maxwell, a Catholic noblewoman who rescued her husband from the Tower of London. One night while her husband, Gavin, is away, a group of Protestants invade Bethan Glentaggart’s home and assault her because she is Catholic. A few years after the attack, Queen Anne dies and George I becomes the new King of England. However, Gavin is displeased over England’s new choice of king. He decides to rebel against George I and install King James II’s Catholic son on the throne of England. However, Gavin’s rebellion fails, and he is arrested and thrown into the Tower of London. He also receives a death sentence. With the help of her sister and female friends, Bethan schemes to save her husband from execution.

     Bethan Glentaggart is a very strong and compelling figure. She is spirited, passionate, and strong-willed. She is also stubborn and impulsive which could put her into harm’s way. However, I admired her courage because she is not afraid of risking her life for her husband. I also admire her steadfast faith in God because she believes that God will eventually find a way to save him. I also respected Bethan’s intellect and her cunning scheme to save her husband. Her plan was not perfect and held that much could have gone wrong. However, she managed to succeed. Therefore, Bethan was an engaging and admirable character.

    Overall, this novel is about faith, friendship, and rebellion. The message of the novel is to always trust in God, and that with God anything is possible. I found all of the characters, especially the females, to be likable and endearing. There were a few times where I thought that the writing style relied more on telling and not showing. However, it was a light and riveting read! I was enthralled from the first page! I did not want this novel to end and wished that it was longer. I do wish there was another novel about Bethan’s adventures before she rescued her husband. This is because I really adore Bethan! A Noble Cunning also opened my eyes to Winnifred Maxwell. Before I read this book, I did not know anything about her. After finishing it, I did more research on her. I found her to be a very intelligent and colorful heroine that would be the epitome of great novels. I also wondered why there were so few books on her. Hopefully, with the publication of A Noble Cunning, there will be books about her in the future. I recommend this novel for fans of The Freemason’s Daughter, White Rose Rebel, and The Pretender’s Lady! A Noble Cunning is an enthralling tribute to a little known yet extraordinary woman!
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This is based on the fascinating true story of a Scottish countess who tries to get her husband out of the Tower of London where he is imprisoned. Much of the story is true and is a nod to the brave people involved in the Jacobite revolution who were fighting against a foreign king and religious persecution.  Quite a historical page-turner.
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This book is based on the real-life events surrounding Winifred Maxwell, a Catholic living in anti-Catholic England.  Overall, I felt this was a good read but at times, found some of the political details to be challenging to follow.  However, if you enjoy historical fiction and strong female characters, this is not one to miss.

This story is told from the perspective of the fictionalized character, Bethann Gelntaggert.  In the opening scene, Bethann's home is being searched by some fanatics who believe Bethann is hiding a Catholic priest.  The scene sets the stage for how strong and pervasive the anti-Catholic sentiment is in England.

We then transition to Bethann's husband, Gavin, going off to battle to restore reign to the rightful king.  However, Gavin and his men are no match for the royal army and are captured and jailed.  Bethann then goes off on a lengthy journey to London Tower to save Gavin's life.  

The prison environment is very different from the modern-day version whereas family and friends must care for and advocate for the prisoner in order for them to survive their sentence.  Their survival requires large quantities of money to provide for meals, water. clothing, blankets, etc. There is also an elaborate process of bribing guards to ensure the prisoner is treated decently. 

The remaining portion of the book focuses on Bethann's efforts to ensure her husband's safety and survival, and this will require lots of creativity and manipulation.  Bethann and her friends that are helping her with her efforts are brave and a true force to be reckoned with.  Unfortunately for the guards, they may have underestimated the power of women and their commitment to their loved ones.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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A Noble Cunning is based on true historic events but delivered in a fictional setting.  This was a rough book to get into and it was hard to stay on track.  The story itself was good and I was interested in reading it but I had the hardest time getting into the characters and wanting to root for them and their cause.

Thank you to Patricia Bernstein, History Through Fiction, and NetGalley for allowing my to read this free copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Gavin Clarencefield is a Scottish nobleman who is Catholic and want to see a Stuart heir returned to the throne.  Because of these two factors, he agrees to take part in an uprising against the King of England.  He is captured and sent to the Tower of London.  He sends word to his wife to come rescue him.  What takes place in A Noble Cunning by Patrice Bernstein is the Countess Clarencefield’s journey to free her husband. Lady Clarencefield sends her children to her in-laws, travels through a bitterly cold snowstorm, rekindles a long family feud, and enlists the help of friends and trusted servants.  She always has the aid of a newly acquainted Mr. Thrupp.  All this to save her husband.  Remembering an old Scottish tale about a lady who rescued her husband, Bethan devises a scheme.  The scheme is shrewd and dangerous, but Lady Clarencefield will do anything to save her husband.  Besides a great love story, this novel is an adventure story and gives the reader a look into the history of Scotland.
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Scotland, 1716

A Noble Cunning: The Countess and the Tower is based on the true story of Winifred Maxwell who relied on wit and courage to rescue her husband from the Tower of London. The author changed the names of Winifred and her husband but keeps to the facts. I found this to be a suspenseful, deeply atmospheric, and gripping book.

Bethan Glentaggart, Countess of Clarencefield, her husband Gavin and their children are Catholics living in Scotland. It is a time of political and religious upheaval. After a shocking beginning in which Bethan home is searched and ransacked by an angry crowd looking for a priest, things are looking bleak and Gavin leaves to join the fight for freedom. He is unfortunately captured and imprisoned in the Tower or London where he is sentenced to death for treason.

After Bethan receives a letter from Gavin informing her of his plight, she sets out for London with the intent of saving him. She is not alone, she has Lucy, her trusted servant to accompany her on her arduous journey to London. Where she pleads for her husband's life and eventually with help, saves her husband. Bethan was a great and inspiring heroine who tackled her fears to save her husband. She was brave, cunning, and clever.

This was a gripping, well written, and historically accurate novel. I loved the vivid descriptions which had me feeling that I was there along with the characters as Bethan bravely and cleverly saved her husband. The descriptions also created a deeply atmospheric book where I could feel not only the chill in the air, but the cold and darkness of the Tower of London.

From the shocking beginning of the book, there is an underlying sense of danger and tension running throughout the book. People were persecuted for their religious beliefs and depending on what religion you were, you could be in grave danger.

This book was historically accurate, and I appreciated the author's attention to detail and it was obvious that she did a tremendous amount of research before writing this book.

I enjoy books based on real events and real people. I also love books where I not only learn but I feel for the characters. I learned, I felt, and I enjoyed this book immensely. Fans of history, Historical fiction, inspired by real people/events and books featuring strong women will enjoy this one.

***Based on the true story of Winifred Maxwell,
a Catholic in anti-Catholic England
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Bethan Glentaggart, Countess of Clarencefield, is a persecuted Catholic noblewoman in the middle of the 1715 Rebellion against England's first German king George I. Traveling alone from the Scottish Lowlands to London through one of the worst snowstorms, she is determined to save her husband's life. The king and his court have little interest in mercy, so Bethan and her friends must use a complex scheme featuring multiple disguises and poison to free Gavin.

This story is based on an actual Countess, which makes me enjoy the story that much more. It opens up with an attack on Bethan's home by a Protestant mob searching for an itinerant Catholic priest. One of them attacks Bethan, as he's completely unhinged. The religious conflict is alive and well not only in the Scottish countryside but in England as well. This sets off the rebellion against George that gets Gavin caught by the end of the first third of the novel. This extended beginning shows us the atmosphere of the period as well as the love between Bethan and Gavin. It's believable that she has the strength of will to go against the king, deal with painfully estranged family, and maintain love of her husband to push her forward. 

We get a chance to see what life is like for the titled gentry as well as the merchant class and serving folk of the period. I can't help but think of Phillipa Gregory's novels with the level of detail for the time period and how threats of war, insurrection, and religious discord affected all walks of life. The scene where Bethan tries to petition the king is a complete melodrama, and as tense as they were leading up to it and after, I found it really memorable and it's easily one of my favorites. (It also actually happened!) 

The second half of the novel is essentially a heist, which is really fun and detail-laden for all its tension. I enjoyed that part and seeing how all the friendships made it work out. Not exactly a spoiler, the story wouldn't have been known if not for the Countess' bravery and cunning. If you enjoy the time period, there's also an appendix with further reading suggestions thoughtfully provided.
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An enjoyable, quick story that read more like a memoir. The characters were well developed and likeable and the history and culture of the time were well explained and understandable.
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Thank you Netgalley and History Through Fiction for access to this arc.

This sounded too interesting to pass up. Reading your notes at the end, I see that though the plot is based on a real life couple, the names were changed and a few fictional characters were added. As I hadn’t heard of and didn’t know the details of the real event, that was okay with me.

The first section of the book was harrowing with Bethan facing down those who would storm her house and threaten her children. Then things slowed down quite a lot – though we did see the happy marriage between Bethan and Gavin and get some flashback scenes and discussions of her past, including her family’s persecution before the accession of James II. When the plotters met at their house, even without knowing how things were going to end, I would have known how things were going to end. It had Disaster written all over it. If anything could go wrong …

But the story picked up steam and kept going once Bethan and her companion Lucy began their journey through a Snowpocalypse to London. Not knowing whom she could trust, Bethan has to judge character at a glance and (happily if a bit conveniently) discovers someone who, along with his family, will be essential to her ultimate plan.

I would love to have seen Bethan in her (required) court costume though from the description in the book, it sounded more like something from the 1740s and none of her dresses would have had buttons down the back. But her carefully plotted plan, which began from the first time she visited him, to gain Gavin his freedom while not ending up trapped in his place in the Tower was daring. Booyah for female friendship – as well as a great degree of money needed for all the intricacies plus finding people in London willing and able to help her. “A Noble Cunning” might have taken a little while to get going but once it did, I went happily along for the ride as Bethan’s cool deception won the day. B
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A Noble Cunning, by Patricia Bernstein,  is a truly amazing story that's based on a  real historical event. The main character, Bethan Glentaggart, is one strong, brave lady! It started off slow, for me, but really picked up halfway through. The historical details and writing was well done. I just get a little impatient to get to all the action. 
Bethan Glentaggart, the Countess of Clarencefield, and her husband are Catholic. Unfortunately, being a Catholic just happens to be against the law at this-point-in-time in England. So, Gavin Glentaggart, the Count of Clarencefield, feels that he must help lead the fight with the other Jacobites. 
Then Gavin gets caught by those loyal to the protestant pretender, King George. He's been sent to the Tower to await his sentence. Meanwhile, Bethan rushes from the Scottish Lowlands all the way to London, in one of the worst snowstorms that she's ever seen.
Once there, She's forced to beg for mercy from a power hungry King George. Even worse, the entire court is there to witness her helplessness, as well as his ruthlessness. Now, she must come up with risky, yet ingenious, plan. 
But Bethan isn't alone! She has an amazing group of family and friends who are committed to helping her see the plan through.
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This novel is based on and inspired by the real life bravery of a Scottish countess in 1715. Her name was Winifred Maxwell, Countess of Nithsdale. She saved her husband from certain death by smuggling him out of the Tower. 

The character in the book is Bethan Glentaggert, Countess of Clarencefield. When she was a child, her family fled to France with King James II (A Stuart king) when William of Orange and Queen Mary (Stuarts) took the throne. Her family was Catholic and lived in exile for many years. She married at age 27 and moved to Scotland with her husband. They lived happily for a while, having three children, but eventually, when the first Jacobite rebellion (to restore James to the throne) occurred, her husband joined in, taking many of his tenants with him into battle. 

With the rebels’ loss at Preston, her husband was taken prisoner and held in the Tower of London awaiting trial. The countess sent her children to safety and traveled to London to try to save her husband. 

We, as readers, make the journey with her. Through a terrible winter storm. One of the worst in years. The author did an excellent job with the descriptions and the travails of the trip. A lesser woman might have given up. The countess had to leave her companion at one point and continue on her own. As a modern day woman, I can’t even imagine how scary that was—first, with the weather and then when alone, worrying about cutthroats and robbers. A woman alone was very vulnerable, but she persevered. 

Once she arrives in London, she visits her husband in the Tower and gets him legal counsel to try to fight the treason charges. She also tries to plead to the king to let him go free. She hatches a back-up plan to try to save him if the legal case doesn’t go well. 

The book was full of historical details and the author did an excellent job of painting the reader a picture of the era. It was as if we were there with the intrepid countess in the snow and in the Tower. The feeling of fear she felt for her husband and what would happen to him read very real. 

The only disappointment I had with the book was the ending. I wanted more information about what happened when the countess joined her husband at the culmination of her brave and daring plan. I guess I’ll have to read one of the books in the bibliography at the end of the novel to learn more about the real life lady who took on the British establishment.
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'A Noble Cunning' is a book inspired by real-life Winifred Herbert Maxwell, Countess of Nithsdale, who, after the failure of the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion, and the subsequent arrest of her husband, attempted to free him from his imprisonment in the Tower of London.

Bethan and Gavin, Earl and Countess of Clarenfield are secretly practicing Catholics living in Scotland, at a time when Catholics are regularly, and increasingly, persecuted by Protestants and other religious factions, 'But nowadays we must be careful because the heathens and the fanaticals have taken over my dear land, and we are strangers here'.  When Queen Anne dies, an uprising rebellion forms, in an attempt to restore the true, exiled James Stuart, to his rightful crown. Gavin decides he must join the call to arms but is soon captured and sent to the Tower of London. Bethan rushes to London to try and save her husband from imminent execution.  Everything seems hopeless and, as a Catholic in London, it's hard to know who to trust. 'But what was coming now and could not be avoided would be the trial of my lifetime'.

'A Noble Cunning' is well written and uses an authentic tone of voice and historical context.  Methodically told in the first person, the book does take a while to build momentum, however, once it does it draws to a quick conclusion.  I was left wanting at least an epilogue to tie up loose ends.  Ultimately I did enjoy the read and learning about a brave woman who took on some daunting odds in an attempt to free her husband.
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In A Noble Cunning: The Countess and Tower , Patricia Bernstein brings to life the political and religious situation in Scotland and England. This novel is historical fiction set in the early 1700’s, but based on real events with names changed and fictional individuals added.

The story is told from the point of view of Bethan Glentaggart, Countess of Clarencefield, who lives in Scotland with her husband Gavin and their children. It’s the story of how people of different religions were treated. There’s fear, anger, hatred, and cruelty to others. When Gavin joins a group of rebels, he is captured. Bethan is determined to rescue her husband from the Tower of London before he is executed. She must face mob attacks, snowstorms, a cruel king, and more. Will she succeed?

The novel starts with a startling event that immediately grabs reader’s attention. There are a few unpredictable moments in the story, and even a couple of humorous moments to give readers a breather from the tension. The book is also very descriptive, which does a great job of giving readers a feeling of the time and place. However, it also slows the pace and adds to the instances of telling versus showing. Additionally, at the 95% point in the book, there is a fast jump in time with no transition. Despite this, the significant amount of danger, bravery, and plotting kept me fully engaged.

Overall, the book was atmospheric and full of suspense. The author has included a historical note at the end of the book. Since it contains spoilers, readers should not read this before reading the book. There are also two family trees, a timeline of events before and during the novel, and an extensive bibliography.

History Through Fiction, Independent Book Publishers Association, Members’ Titles, Patricia Bernstein, and Stephanie Barko provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own. Publication date is currently set for March 7, 2023.
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A Noble Cunning - The Countess and the Tower - by Patricia Bernstein is another throughly enjoyable story published by History Through Fiction who I thank for pointing me to this book via Netgalley. 

The lead character Bethan Glentaggart, Countess of Clarencefield, a persecuted Catholic noblewoman, is based on Winifred Herbert Maxwell, Countess of Nithsdale who is said to have rescued her own husband from the Tower of London in a similar fashion as Bethan does in A Nobel Cunning.

It is a fascinating tale of one woman's bravery, determination and endless ideas to achieve her goal. Considering this is set almost 300 years ago I am astonished what she managed to accomplish. 

History and fiction combined to perfection!
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