Monday, 18 April 2016


5 GOLD stars

English Civil War Drama

On Amazon UK HERE
On Goodreads HERE

What an amazing book ~ I don't think I'm going to be able to read anything else for a day or so!

This Rough Ocean is about the fortunes of the Swinfen family in the English Civil War; it's fiction but much of it is based on the real life adventures of John and Anne Swinfen (Swynfen) and their family; the author's note at the back gives more information.

John Swynfen is a Member of Parliament, a 'moderate', and his family have joined him to live in Westminster from their country estate in Staffordshire, during the time when Charles I has been captured and Cromwell's men are ransacking the country.  John is imprisoned, and Anne must take her family back to Stafford to safety ~ and assume the role of 'Lord of the Manor'.

I'd say this is probably the ultimate fiction about the period.  It's impeccably and intricately researched, a book of adventure, great hardship, bravery, loss, the brutality within man but the goodness to be found in unexpected places, too; honestly, it's riveting.  I liked the first half very much, when John is safe in Westminster, and the danger around the country is becoming more and more of a threat, but I ADORED the second half, which is told from the alternating points of view of Anne, with all her difficulties managing Swinfen estate, and John, as his life becomes more bleak, the possibility of escape back to his home and family seeming ever more impossible.  Also woven into this part of the story is the tale of their wayward eldest son, Dick, who decides to walk from London to Stafford instead of going safely back to school....

In the first third of the book there is a fair bit of political detail which you might find a bit hard going unless you are already well versed in/particularly interested in this aspect, but it's an education in itself, and the book soon ups its tempo as it moves away from the London political arena and back to the stories of John, Anne and their family.  Stick with it!

Ann Swinfen clearly has such insight into all aspects of life at this time, and I felt so involved with the characters all the way through this book; it even made me cry at three separate points.  This Rough Ocean is something of a masterpiece ~ I can't recommend it too highly.

FLOOD by Ann Swinfen reviewed HERE

BETRAYAL by Ann Swinfen reviewed HERE



  1. Wow, this sounds like my kind of book!

    1. Liz, you'd adore it! It's one of those 'I feel jealous of you because you have yet to read it' books :)

  2. Great review, Terry. I wonder if this is the same family who built Swinfen Hall in Stafforshire? The book sounds fascinating.

    1. It is the very same - it's where the story is set. The original hall was torn down and rebuilt in the Georgian era, though :)

    2. Ooh, I love it! Swinfen Hall isn't far from where I live.

    3. Oh really? After I'd read this I thought how much I'd love to go there and see all the places I'd read about. And of course the author is a descendent of these people in the book!