‘Power, politics and a devastating fight for the crown in this gripping historical novel following the rise of Oliver Cromwell’s youngest daughter. Perfect for fans of Anne O’Brien, Joanna Hickson and Alison Weir.‘
– The Puritan Princess
I am delighted to be sharing an extract of the exciting debut novel, The Puritan Princess, by Miranda Malins. Published with Orion in digital format in April, The Puritan Princess has been described as ‘gripping and unforgettable…..a new historical novel of family, politics and the price of love.’
Set in the seventeenth century, The Puritan Princess follows the story of Frances Cromwell, the youngest daughter of Oliver Cromwell, living the life of a ‘princess’ at her father’s court, searching for love and fulfillment in dangerous and turbulent times.
What inspired The Puritan Princess?
Miranda Malins’ lifelong love of historical fiction combined with her PhD research into the kingship crisis where Parliament sought to make Oliver Cromwell king was the initial inspiration for the book. This led her to discover the important role of his family – and daughters in particular – at his colourful court. Miranda had always felt that period was underrepresented in commercial historical fiction and once she realised how closely his youngest daughter Frances’s marriage prospects were tied to the issue of Cromwell becoming king she knew she had found a great story: a story of kingship and courtship with a fascinating, brave young woman at its heart.
Please do continue reading for details about the book and an extract which I hope will whet your appetite for more!!
[ About the Book ]
London, 1657. The youngest daughter of Oliver Cromwell, eighteen-year-old Frances is finding her place at England’s new centre of power.
Following the turmoil of Civil War, a fragile sense of stability has returned to the country. Her father has risen to the unprecedented position of Lord Protector of the Commonwealth, and Frances has found herself transported from her humble childhood home to the sumptuous palaces of Hampton Court and Whitehall, where she dreams of a love match that must surely be found at court.
But after an assassination attempt on the Cromwell family, Frances realises the precarious danger of her position – and when her father is officially offered the crown, Frances’s fate suddenly assumes diplomatic and dynastic importance.
Will she become a political pawn, or can Frances use her new status to seize control and further her own ambitions?
[ Extract ]
Frances Cromwell and her sisters attend their father’s execution
‘We shouldn’t have come,’ I say.
Mary stiffens. ‘We were right to come, Frances. Father would want us to be here; we were his soldiers too.’
Her words conjure images of the russet-coated Ironsides of the old days and, as I watch them march through the air, I am surprised again by the resolve Mary has shown in these past days; it used to be me who was the brave one.
‘We are here for Henry too,’ Bridget says quietly on my other side, her voice breaking over his name.
And that is when we hear them coming. A slow drumbeat parts the crowds and a dragging, catching sound behind it takes me back instantly to my early childhood when the boys drove the ploughs up and down the marshy fields outside Ely. But this is no plough. I know, without turning, that this is a hurdle, a great gnarled gate on which the horses have drawn the prisoners all the way along Holborn. It is a strange route to take from Westminster Abbey but, once again, symbolic – a final pretence that the men had come not from the sanctified chapel of kings but from Newgate prison, as most come to Tyburn.
The crowd begins to swell forward, nudging us closer to the scaffold. I smile in the sudden memory of what my brother-in-law Charles had reported Father saying to General Lambert, the day their great army marched north to fight the Scots. When Lambert had remarked on the cheering, massing throng waving and wishing them success, Father had quipped that the crowd would be as noisy to see him hang.
How right he was.
But as I peer from beneath my hood at the faces around me, I realise that Father was only partly right. As many are here to see him hanged, it is true, but they are not cheering and bustling as they had been to see him lead his army. Nor are they laughing, drinking and pinching each other with the holiday mood that I understand usually accompanies public hangings, they are solemn, watchful, nervous.
For this is no ordinary execution. This crowd has come to witness something grotesque; an act outside the conventions of normal society, a violation of God’s law, a performance of pure, visceral vengeance by their so-called ‘merry monarch’. This would be a traitors’ death for men beyond the reach of the law, beyond the reach even of the king; a second death for men already with God.
For these prisoners are already dead.
They are not living men that the hangman and his assistants now unstrap from the hurdle and haul upright to stand, propped awkwardly beneath each noose, wrapped in their death shrouds. They are corpses, disturbed from their consecrated sleep, taken from their allotted square of earth. Robbed from their Christian graves.
John Bradshaw, president of the court that tried the young Charles Stuart’s father, the tyrant King Charles.
Henry Ireton, Bridget’s husband and the fiercest, cleverest man in Father’s army.
And Father, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth, Oliver Cromwell.
[ Bio ]
Miranda is a writer and historian specialising in the history of Oliver Cromwell, his family and the politics of the Interregnum period following the Civil Wars. She studied at Cambridge University, leaving with a PhD, and continues to speak at conferences and publish journal articles and book reviews. She is also a Trustee of the Cromwell Association. Alongside this, Miranda works as a commercial solicitor in the City and began writing historical novels on maternity leave.
She lives in Hampshire with her husband, young son and cat, Keats.
The Puritan Princess is her debut novel.
Twitter ~ @MirandaMalins