A Pledge of Better Times: A Novel. Margaret Porter. Gallica Press. April 2015. 414 pp. ISBN#: 9780990742043.
Power and its consequent manipulations, betrayals, immoralities, favors, and dysfunction are characteristic of 17th Century England under the reign of King Charles II, King James, King William III and his Queen Mary, and King George III. But Lady Diana de Vere is an anomaly in the middle of the turmoil that ensues from royal chaos and those who vie for favored status. Diana and her husband Charles share a common background; their fathers sired many children out of marriage and the status of “bastard” has innumerable consequences that are hard indeed to survive. Financial worries are ever-present as well. But Diana and Charles are made of feisty stuff and their love endures no matter what ever-changing circumstances surround them.
To begin with Charles knows he must become a soldier in order to make enough money to hold any higher status and connection to the royal family. Fortunately for him, the arrangement he makes with Diana’s father will become reality, a fact Diana will not discover for years. Diana lives through the trauma of King Charles II’s demise and wonders how the absolute tyranny of King James will end. Political parties connected with Parliament abound and as those parties change so do those in royal favor. Some become so powerful that their demands supersede those of the kings and queens they serve – amazing!
War with France is on and off throughout most of this novel and Charles conducts himself so favorably that he attracts the attention and favor of King William III and his Queen, Mary, becomes very fond of the companionship of Diana. That bond will be broken but justice will eventually be served as Lady Diana remains a woman of practical skills and impeccably moral character.
Joys and tragedies fill the years of Charles and Diana’s marriage and these scenes are delightfully depicted in a vivacious style by this obviously skilled author, Margaret Porter. She quite clearly knows how to balance plot and character development and present 17th Century English royalty and service in a dynamic and enchanting manner.
Fine, fine historical fiction that this reviewer highly recommends!