Frances Cromwell is the youngest daughter of Oliver Cromwell. After the Civil War, her father becomes the country’s leading man and the family moves into the palaces of the old Stuart kings. A long discussion starts about whether her father will also get a crown, and Frances dreams of a life as a princess. But princess or not, she may be an important pawn in politics to make an advantageous marriage.
The Puritan Princess is Malins’ debut novel. She’s specialized in Oliver Cromwell’s life and the Civil War. I previously read her second novel The rebel daughter about Bridget, the eldest Cromwell daughter. In that book, we are still in the midst of the Civil War. Focusing on Frances now, we follow the Cromwell family after the war during their ultimate moments of glory until their brutal fall.
Frances is especially close with her sister Mary and looks up to the even older and charming Elizabeth, the opposite of the rational Bridget. Her eldest brother Richard is named as his father’s successor and her other brother Harry is in Ireland. It’s a big family!
Frances mostly enjoys life at court and has her eye set on Robert Rich. A match that’s not approved by her father. There’s more drama in this book, but still a lot of politics and halfway through I found it all rather slow. Only when things start to deteriorate for the family the story seems to pick up and I couldn’t put it down.
Malins really did introduce me to the Cromwell family as I had never imagined them before. But in terms of writing style, I struggled at times, as I did with the stupid nicknames for all the sisters. I found The rebel daughter more engaging, but the puritan princess gives a good picture of a different Oliver Cromwell and his family than they are remembered for.
Have you read anything from Malins? Do you have any recommendations about the Civil War or Oliver Cromwell?