Saturday 27 October 2018

#BookReview — By Love Divided by Elizabeth St.John #HistoricalFiction #Stuarts #EnglishCivilWar @ElizStJohn

By Love Divided

By Elizabeth St.John

Fiercely independent, Luce Apsley rejects the dazzling English court and an arranged marriage by her aristocratic family, and falls in love with a Roundhead soldier. Desperate to rebuild their lives, her mother embraces the Puritan cause and yet Luce’s beloved brother, Sir Allen Apsley, chooses to fight for king and joins the gallant Royalists. As England marches into civil war, Luce embraces Parliament's radical views and challenges the very core of the family's beliefs. When their influential Villiers cousins raise the stakes, King Charles demands a loyalty of Allen that could jeopardize them all. Allen and Luce face a devastating challenge. Will war unite or divide them? In the dawn of England’s rebellion, love is the final battleground.

In a civil war, there are no winners. Just desperate broken men who have seen things they wished could be unseen, and who have done things they would do anything to undo.

On the death of her husband, Lucy Apsley finds herself and her children on the verge of destitution. Her late husband, Sir Allen Apsley, had loaned large amounts of money to King Charles. However, when they needed that money the most, Charles ignores the warrant. Without that money, Lucy cannot pay their debts. The only way out for gentle Lucy is to marry, and although her late husband was a staunch Royalist, her new husband believes in the Puritan cause.

Allen, Lucy’s son, is determined to restore the family’s fortune and save his mother from a life of misery. He immerses himself in the court of King Charles as he desperately tries to find someone to plea upon his mother’s behalf to the monarch.

Luce, Lucy’s daughter, is studious and prefers the company of books, to that of the nobility. She has no interest in marrying for political or financial gain.  But then one fateful day, she meets John. John is compassionate and loving. More importantly, he shares the same beliefs as she does. It is no wonder Luce falls in love with him.

However, discontentment rumbles around Charles’ realm and threatens to shatter Luce’s new found happiness. While Allen, who is so armoured with court life and the whole idea of following in his father’s footsteps and fighting in the name of the King, takes up arms, so does Luce’s husband.  However, John does not stand with the King. He stands with parliament. 

Lucy is determined that whatever happens this war will not destroy her family. And although she too, sides with the Puritans, she continually prays for a peaceful resolution that will bring her boys home.

From the dazzling grandeur to Charles Stuart’s court to the horrors of The Battle of Marston Moor. By Love Divided by Elizabeth St.John is an unforgettable sweeping saga of a family who is ripped apart by loyalty to the King, and loyalty to parliament.

By Love Divided is as beautiful as it is harrowing. Ms St.John has captured the very essences of this era within the pages of this remarkable book. By approaching this story using various points of view, Ms St.John has presented us with a story that tells both sides of the war. But make no mistake, By Love Divided is more than just an account of the English Civil War, it is an intimate look at how that war affected the lives of so many and how it tore some families apart. 

What I adored about this book was the fact that all the characters are based on real people who lived through this terrible time. The amount of hours that Ms St.John has spent on research has to be commended. Ms St.John has skilfully woven a story that is as rich in historical detail as it is in action. 

By Love Divided is undoubtedly a very emotional book, and I quickly grew to love the protagonists. I cherished every word, every syllable, every sentence. By Love Divided is one of those rare books that leaves a mark upon your heart. This is not a book that I will forget in a hurry.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Elizabeth St.John

Elizabeth St.John was brought up in England and lives in California. To inform her writing, she has tracked down family papers and residences from Nottingham Castle, Lydiard Park, and Castle Fonmon to the Tower of London. Although the family sold a few castles and country homes along the way (it's hard to keep a good castle going these days), Elizabeth's family still occupy them - in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their imprint. And the occasional ghost.

Elizabeth’s debut novel, The Lady of the Tower, has been an Amazon best seller since its release in 2016, and has won numerous awards for historical fiction. By Love Divided, the second in The Lydiard Chronicles series, follows the fortunes of the St.John family during the English Civil War, and was featured a the 2018 Swindon Festival of Literature as well as recognized with an “Editors’ Choice” by the Historical Novel Society.  Elizabeth’s currently working on the next in the series, telling of the lives of the St.John women after the Civil War and into the Restoration.

Elizabeth loves to hear from readers, you can find her: WebsiteAmazon Author PageTwitterFacebook.


  1. Thank you for such a wonderful and insightful review, Mary Anne. I loved how you connected with the family and their lives, and gives me great encouragement to keep telling their stories!

  2. Congratulations on such a wonderful review. So is every character in the book a real historical person?

    1. Thank you so much Ivy. Yes, the characters are real, and the main characters (the Apsley, St.John, Hutchinson and Villiers families) are my ancestors.

  3. This sounds fascinating. I love that it is based around real people.

    1. Thanks Jackie! Yes, really enjoyed the family to life!

  4. I agree with everything Mary Anne said. I loved this book. Will you be writing another book in the series?

    1. Thank you Beatrice, that's so kind of you to say. Yes, I am currently at work on the third book, in which Allen, Frances, Luce, John and Lucy return - and we meet a new character, Nan St.John, Countess Rochester. She's definitely going to liven things up!


See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx