After a rowdy night in Kavanagh’s alehouse in Dublin, Kit Kavanagh discovers that her husband, Richard, has disappeared, and the only clue to his leaving is Kit’s discovery of the ‘Queen’s Shilling' in Richard's ale tankard. From this it is assumed that Richard has been taken by the army. Three months later, and with no further news of Richard, Kit decides to risk everything to in order to find out what has happened to him. However, this decision to leave Dublin is fraught with danger and Kit has huge difficulties to encounter.
What then follows is the story of how Kit changes her identity and signs up in the Duke of Marlborough's regiment, and how disguised as a man she follows the army, hoping for clues of Richard. The excitement and danger faced by Kit is very real and even later when she has been forced to change her plans, there is never a moment when Kit isn’t in control of her destiny. There is no doubt that Kit is a feisty protagonist and the lengths she goes to ensure that she is not recognised as a woman makes for interesting reading. However, it is in her developing relationship with Captain Ross, the Dragoon commander where the story really starts to become fascinating.
I think that the author does a commendable job of bringing this period of history alive. I knew nothing about the Spanish War of Succession, and Kit’s story, inspired as it was by the true story of Mother Ross who really did enlisted in the army as an infantryman, gives a real insight into the social and political difficulties faced during the early part of the eighteenth century.
An interesting historical novel and well worth a read if you like European history combined with more than a hint of malice and mayhem.
Best Read with…a tankard of rich ale and a comforting bowl of vegetable broth.
She is a history graduate of Oxford University and the University of Venice
On Twitter @MarinaFiorato
My thanks to the publishers Hodder & Stoughton for the opportunity to read this book