Royalist Sir Allen Apsley thinks his choice is clear, but when his mother embraces the Puritan cause, and his beloved sister Luce falls in love with John Hutchinson, a Roundhead soldier, his loyalties are tested. Is it family first? Is it country first? As England falls into bloody civil war, Allen must fight for king and country, while Luce embraces Parliament’s radical views and confronts the very core of the family’s beliefs. And when their influential Villiers cousins raise the stakes, Allen and Luce face a devastating challenge. Will war unite or divide them? In the dawn of rebellion, love is the final battleground.
Based on surviving memoirs, court papers and letters of Elizabeth St.John’s family, By Love Divided continues the story of Lucy St.John, The Lady of the Tower. This powerfully emotional novel tells of England’s great divide, and the heart-wrenching choices one family faces.
“I am completely blown away by Elizabeth St. John’s follow up novel, By Love Divided. The depth of her characterization, the elegance of her prose (and dialogue) and the masterful way in which she presents the realities of the English Civil War such that we’re bleeding for both sides is nothing short of brilliant. If you want a compelling, exquisitely written story to immerse you in the past, By Love Divided is a must read! I consider it one of my favourite historical reads and it’s earned a place on my keeper shelf! 5 plus stars!” -Cryssa Bazos, Author of The Traitor’s Knot
Our uncle Lord Grandison was married to a lady so jealous of him, and so ill-natured in her jealous fits to anything that was related to him, that her cruelties to my mother exceeded the stories of stepmothers.
16th January, 1631
Leaving sweet Chelsea for the Battersey shore, Lucy was ferried to the underworld, where Cerberus guarded the gates to Hades. Only this hell was her childhood home, and the sentinel, Aunt Joan.
“Hold tight to the side, my Lady Apsley.” The Thames boatman, etched black against the lowering January sky, stood and plied his oar. “The current runs strong upon the shallows.”
Lucy already gripped the weathered wood, for she knew this treacherous river of old. On the southern bank appeared St. Mary’s spire, an obelisk marking the family crypt. There, her uncle would reside, laid beneath the chancel, where the flesh would fall from his bones and his spirit be exalted to the heavens.
Lord Oliver St.John, Viscount Grandison, no longer of this world. Another funeral, when her husband’s death still shrouded her heart.
Would she ever be free of the melancholy? A tear stung her eye—surely from the hostile wind, unfurling silvery banners all the way from the Tower and the cold northern sea beyond.
“Do not despair, Mother. You have me to care for you,” murmured her son, Allen’s namesake, fourteen and caught between youth and manhood. Her eldest boy, a witness to more in the Tower than any child ought.
He huddled close to her on the rough plank bench, his threadbare cloak pulled tight across his chest. Those final years in the Tower afforded no new clothes, for the departing prisoners left but shabby pickings. At least she’d salvaged mourning silks, payment obligatory for their keeper duties.
Lucy sighed. Her husband had been so proud of his appointment. Sir Allen Apsley. Keeper and Lieutenant of the Tower of London, with all the fees and privileges that accompanied the position. Three thousand pounds he’d paid for that perquisite, moving them into the Tower to administer the prison. And so little income, after the Duke of Buckingham’s death ended his favors. All had turned to dust in their last years of residence.
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. But that’s a different story…
By Love Divided, Elizabeth’s sequel to The Lady of the Tower, follows the fortunes of the St.John family during the English Civil War, and is out now.