Reviews of May 1812

As those who know me will tell you, I’m rather assiduous about not reading reviews of my work.  Which may mean I’m an arrogant tosser.  But I’d like to think it’s because reading them–and don’t get me wrong, I love it when my readers love my work, nothing is more wonderful than that!  But reading them will not get the next book written. However, a family member who holds the world record for strong opinions has made it transparently clear that I must post these.  Hence, I am now doing as I’ve been told to do–repeatedly.  Ad nauseum.  Hence, I have lifted these from the review section of Amazon, partially because one never knows when Amazon is going to decide to delete the lot or add dancing girls or scratch and sniff options… [Just wish to add–hand on Bible–this is the first time I’ve read most of these, and frankly, I’m feeling more than a bit dazed…I’d absolutely no idea!]

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May 1812“I very much enjoyed this page-turning novel, which is part romance, part historical fiction. The rather feckless, dilatory Earl of Myddelton has a minor position at the Foreign Office, working as a codebreaker during the Napoleonic wars, when he discovers that, under the terms of his father’s will, he must marry a young woman he has never met by the end of the week. Jane Heron is the daughter of an old family friend, to whom his father was emotionally and financially indebted, and, in order not to forfeit his family estates, Myddelton must marry her by the following Saturday, her eighteenth birthday. What follows combines beautifully-observed historical detail with a gripping romance plot, as we follow how the young couple struggle to come to terms with this unwelcome – and unconsummated – marriage of convenience. ” M.M. Bennetts is clearly a writer deeply at home in the Regency period, and the novel works hard to capture its language, style and tone. Beau Brummell, Prince George, Lord Castlereagh, Vauxhall Gardens, Georgian decorations and excellently observed costumes all supply rich colour. But the deftly observed sense of history does not detract from a pacey, absorbing novel, which is both emotionally compelling and, at times, beguilingly erotic. There are also some excellent trot-on parts for dogs, cats and horses – Lotto the dog is a character I shall miss!” 5.0 out of 5 stars, 23 Aug 2012 By Ruskin fan

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“I usually read nautical books set in the age of sail but on vacation I thought I’d have a change of pace and give this one a try. It is essentially a romance, unsurprisingly from the title, set in the short period of  May 1812. “The principal characters are thrust together but despite a seemingly endless series of fateful misunderstandings which seem destined to separate them romance blossoms. The principal character is a peer on the fringes of government and it was interesting to read what might be described as the ‘ballroom diplomacy’ of the time. “This is a long book, but despite that the fast paced continual twists and turns of the plot made it hard to put down and I certainly recommend it.” 5.0 out of 5 stars, 17 July 2011 By Astrodene (Essex, England)

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pic-may1812“Ah, research – how it pays off in the end! What a wonderful book, from beginning to end. As a fan of the Napoleonic era I can only commend MMB on the diligence and plain hard work that has made this one of my favourites of all time. Myddelton comes across as a bit of a workaholic, bound by duty and circumstances to marry someone he’s never even heard of, let alone met. However, not to spoil things, over the course of a month things go from bad to worse to even worse and back to bad for both characters. Jane appears almost too saintly to be true, but has an underlying steely determination to “make things work”. The denouement (what a lovely word) is as good as one could wish for, and a HEA ending is pretty inevitable. All in all a stonking good read – even the vile Miss Wythenshaw gets my reluctant sympathy – no spoilers!!” 5.0 out of 5 stars, 8 Oct 2012 By Mrs. Jennifer A. Mander

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“I was greatly surprised by this book. When I bought it I was given no indication it was essentially a romance, but as such it works effectively. The cast of characters are well defined and an extensive knowledge of the period clearly shines through in the writing. Although a long book, it did not seem so as each twist and turn brought a fresh development. “On finishing May 1812 I immediately read the companion piece Of Honest Fame. Both books together are excellent and I hope M.M. Bennetts does not wait too long before furnishing is with further adventures.” 5.0 out of 5 stars, 10 April 2012 By C. Fontenelle (Essex, England)

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“A friend recommended Of Honest Fame by the same author so when I was finished I went straight on to this one… (the joy of kindle!) Other reviews are so detailed talking about the plot and the characters (how I wish they wouldn’t.)  I don’t think I need say more except that its a balance of history and romance, (two subjects I wouldn’t normally choose) and I found it hard to put down.. feeling rather lost now that it’s over. 5.0 out of 5 stars a fab read.., 11 Jan 2012 By Mrs. Sarah Robinson (Spain)

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“First encountered on a well-known writers’ site, I committed to read the standard ‘first three chapters’ but once opened I had to consume the work in the course of two nights of pleasurable reading. The author has an authentic and fluid voice born of thorough research and deep understanding of all facets of the Georgian period; the architecture, customs, language, manners of the time. “The central characters of Jane and Myddleton are superbly drawn, with warts and all in the case of the latter, such that one cannot help but be attracted to both. The central thread is one of a gentle, if initially detached love story, developing as Myddleton examines his own motives and feelings. Characters that stand equal to the best of British literature. “Bennetts presents this story amidst the intrigue of politics during the height of the Napoleonic wars, with great conviction and panache. “May 1812 is one of those rare treats; a work of outstanding historical fiction written with real insight of the times with beautiful style. One of my favourite books of the last decade and highly commended to anyone with an appetite for well-written period fiction.” 5.0 out of 5 stars, 9 Aug 2011 By Malcolm H. Mendey (NZ)

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assassination3May 1812 tells the story of Lord Myddelton, a Regency agent for the British government who is set the task of breaking the fabled ‘Grand Chiffre’ code, the fate of Europe, at the mercy of Napoleon, depends upon him succeeding. But things get more complicated as Myddelton learns that he is to marry against his will. May 1812‘s pivotal moment is the assassination of the British Prime Minister. Wonderfully evocative of the period, this is a well researched piece of work that is full of the colour, sights, smells, tastes and sounds of the period. It is perhaps as close as one can come to stepping into a time machine and finding oneself in Regency England at a time of great fear for the future as Napoleon’s armies ravage Europe. That said, there is also great humour, Myddleton is, as well as a reluctant hero, also a great comic character at times. “All in all this is an excellent title that I wholeheartedly recommend as a thrilling, and romantic read.” 5.0 out of 5 stars, 29 Mar 2010 By F. Meek

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“There can sometimes be an audible self-consciousness to the narration of historical fiction; you can hear the author trying to convince. I didn’t hear that once here, which testifies to the thoroughness with which this novel has been researched. I forgot that May 1812 was written by a contemporary author. I was convinced by it and entirely engaged in the story. “The novel’s characters are vibrantly coloured (even more so than their waistcoats). Myddelton, in equal measure, pleased and exasperated me. I swore in his direction rather a lot, because I found myself caring about him and his firecracker blue-eyed Janey – our likeably self-controlled and smart heroine. May 1812 is written with energy, personality and humour and communicates the author’s evident enthusiasm for the period and affection for the characters. I, in turn, want to enthuse about this novel. I defy you not to succumb to Myddelton’s charm.” 5.0 out of 5 stars, 22 Mar 2010 By Lou Galvin

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“This is the book you want to read if you hate tin-eared modern speech infecting historical novels or worse, where modern ideas and attitudes pervade historical mores that are alien to us. May 1812 is a book that assumes a certain amount of nous in the reader and trusts in me to get the ‘gist’ where foreign or arcane words are spoken by the characters. I like being trusted. I believe I am able to glean sufficient meaning from context and, if I can’t, I look it up. I don’t need each new word to be defined for me by the author while the cast sit about waiting for me to catch up with the period. “There, I’ve said it: May 1812 is a visual, ensemble tale, much like a television adaptation. It draws you into a world that is at once immediate (the crisis of Middleton’s fragile relationship with Jane Heron) and remote (code breaking in the Napoleonic war, the habits of society). “May 1812 isn’t a war novel just like Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities isn’t a war novel but it is a ‘slice of life’ novel based in a society at war, a society in desperate denial about the very real possibility of Napoleon’s all-conquering army wiping them all out. “M.M. Bennetts proves that it is possible to represent early 19th century society with all its idiosyncrasies, rigid hierarchies, outrageous insults and terrible consequences without boring or alienating or talking down to the reader. “There were surprises in the least attractive characters: It was an eye opener to me to learn that an over romantic foolish purveyor of sentimental doggrel and an overindulged, ambitious and brazen girl were capable of doing as much damage to Great Britain’s security as Napoleon’s entire Grande Armée. “If there is a weak spot and, I withhold five stars for this alone, the very accurate and detailed description of the piano and cello recital reminded me of ‘classic’ English books I was forced to read in school and that caused me to skip forward to the action again. Not a deal breaker but here’s hoping that M.M. Bennetts gets to grips with this and writes about only what moves the story forward in recognition that we ‘modernies’ care about the characters most of all.” 4.0 out of 5 stars, 19 July 2011 By Mr. Garalt Canton (Montpellier)

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1812_greatcoat“Romantic historical novels aren’t usually my style, but I was recommended this book by one I trust, and for that I am much grateful. I love the presentation, with a beautifully designed cover and a typeface that invites you into the page. “M.M. Bennetts has a fluid style that beguiles the reader, and inveigles one into the plots, schemes and characterisation with a measured effectiveness. Because of that the main characters are believable, strong, and fully blown to an extent where I was already casting the piece for BBC production. Furthermore, the author encourages one to leave the 21st century and revel in the Regency period in which the novel is set. This no small feat, but it is achieved by using a style of writing that doesn’t jerk like so much modern prose. I was reminded quite a bit of Goldsmith and the deft way he had of involving disparate characters, who soon become deeply enmeshed with each other, whether in love or jealousy. “The plot developments are redolent of Mary Renault, in that the gear changes are never signalled or posted. They happen in such a normal way that one is never pulled up in mid-paragraph, but lean forward into the saddle and moved smoothly ahead. The one thing I wasn’t prepared for, and for which I was soon truly delighted, was a happy ending. It’s such a change to be at one with two marvellous young people who have a possibility of a future life together. “I have already bought another M.M. Bennetts novel, and look forward to a couple of hours in bed with a glass of whatever. It is so good to find a new writer who arrests one’s attention in such a clever way.” 4.0 out of 5 stars, 10 July 2011 By Octavian

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May 1812!  Live it.

Available at www.amazon.co.uk and www.amazon.com… And do follow me on Twitter, ya?  @mmbennetts

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