Rosemary Sutcliff’s Simon | A novel of the English Civil War

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Rosemary Sutcliff’s 1953 historical novel and children’s book Simon – the subject of a comment by Anne in an earlier post – is a story about competing loyalties in the midst of a civil war. The Washington Post and Times Herald on April 4th, 1954 said:

It is a colourful story … (and) Miss Sutcliff’s interest in character makes even the minor characters interesting … she is adept too at communicating a sense of the Devon countryside. 

In the 1640s everyone in England was taking sides for the King or Parliament. In the west country (of England) the division was bitter as Cromwell gathered his forces for the final campaign. The clash of personal loyalties, the severing of friendship, and the bitter strain of the English Civil War of 1642-1660 are re-presented in the story of Simon Carey, the farmer’s son who enlists with the Parliamentary forces – the Roundheads – and Amias Hannaford, his boyhood friend, who fights for the Royalist cause. They had the same schoolmaster, went away to the same school, and expected to return home, Simon to help his father farm, and Amias to be apprenticed to his doctor-father. But they parted when King Charles raised his standard in Nottingham, Simon to join the Fairfax Horse.

One reader-reviewer of Rosemary Sutcliff and the novel Simon wrote on GoodReads:

It’s not … the quickest-paced of her books, but Rosemary Sutcliff could write the clash of different groups as well as anyone doing historical fiction for children, and this is a wonderful example. There are nuanced characters on both sides of the Civil War, and the beliefs of both sides are shown fairly. … We got the opinion of an academic who’s a real expert in the Civil War era, and he said the portrait of Cromwell sounded absolutely accurate.

One comment

  1. Carey? Very odd. That’s the family Ronald Welch wrote about, though – according to Wikipedia – his first Carey novel was published in 1956. Did they know each other?

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