JOHN MORDAUNT by Virgil Scott


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A high-gloss, sweeping chronicle of Charles Stuart's years of exile and the rule of Oliver Cromwell, , John Mordaunt is burnished with research and skillful writing. If it is not much more than that, the fault can be laid to Mordaunt's self-lossness and rock-jawed loyalty. Mordaunt (though described as a wit) is a humorless, royalist. His brother and late father, however, supported Cromwell. Mordaunt has remained on his estate for five years but the Crown taxes him penniless. While visiting London to help pay his brother's taxes, Mordaunt is arrested and falsely accused of conspiracy and lands in Newgate prison's limbo. A woman he befriended buys his way out but he is still chased by the Crown. He joins an abortive uprising, is recaptured and shipped to the Barbados as a slave for the cane fields. Escaping again, he spends two years getting back to England, then joins Charles Stuart himself on the Continent, who sends him back home as an organizer. Captured again, Mordaunt is tried by Cromwell in person. But Cromwell dies, his rule topples, Stuart returns and Mordaunt's estates are regained. Except for some gratuitous sex and scenes of flagellation, the story never falters in seriousness, and the prose is often rich, cadenced and heavy with disenchantment.

Pub Date: Feb. 26th, 1964
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World