Lucy Beckett’s novel, The Time Before You Die, is a poignant portrait of one of the most tumultuous periods in history.
Beckett has woven an intricate tapestry of a time where religion and politics were so divisive and shows us the consequences for average people far removed from the ranks of nobility and diplomacy.
Martin Luther, King Henry VIII and his noblemen, and the Catholic Church of the time are all laid bare; good and bad, sinner and saint. The characters, real and imagined each reveal some truth, some more palatable than others, of the human condition.
Robert Fletcher is a flawed character and whilst I found myself cringing at some of his choices, I have the benefit of looking at Tudor England through a different lens while he had to live through it. His journey, from start to finish, is a complicated one and yet in his mistakes and errors he paints a real picture of the inner turmoil of trying to find your way in a world that seems to have lost its way.
I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations between Fletcher and many of the main characters, but particularly Cardinal Pole, about religion, faith and politics.
I admit it did take me a little while to get into the narrative, the structure includes correspondence from various diplomats of the time, but once I was a few chapters in I was grateful for the slightly more complex format because it furnished the narrative nicely and embroidered layers of detail and realism.
All in all this was an engaging narrative and a thought provoking look at life in the Protestant Reformation of England.
About the Author: I am a reformed perfectionist who is now a stay at home mum with five children under nine years of age. I am a qualified journalist and graphic designer with a decided creative streak, and run a hobby business called Emily Shaw Design + Write. I will attempt most craft activities and love to write about topical - and especially controversial - issues.