Picks and Pans Review: Faith and Treason

UPDATED 02/03/1997 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 02/03/1997 at 01:00 AM EST

by Antonia Fraser

Each Nov. 5, in an uncharacteristic display of communal merriment, people across England light bonfires, throw an effigy of one Guy Fawkes on top and set off fireworks. The celebration recalls the foiling of a plot to blow up James I in 1605, an incident perpetrated by a group of Catholics—Fawkes among them—who hoped to improve their lot by placing James's young daughter Elizabeth on the throne.

Fraser uses the conspiracy to focus on the penalties—fines, imprisonment, sometimes death—suffered by Catholics in early Jacobean England. In the process, combining her skills as a novelist with those of historian, she introduces us to a memorable cast, including a remarkable deformed mason-carpenter, "Little John" Owen, who constructed scores of small, hidden chambers—"priest holes"—where such heroic women as Anne Vaux managed to hide Catholic clergymen, feeding them through tubes that Owen had ingeniously contrived.

Fraser, a Catholic, argues cogently that, while there was indeed a plot by a handful of fanatics, the affair was used by James's minister Lord Salisbury to taint all Catholics, forcing them to live in an atmosphere of intolerance for more than 200 years. (Doubleday, $27.95)

Your Reaction

Follow Us

On Newsstands Now

Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Emma and Andrew: All About Hollywood's Cutest Couple
  • Prince George! More Yummy Photos

Pick up your copy on newsstands

Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine

Advertisement

From Our Partners

Watch It

Editors' Picks

From Our Partners



Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters