England 1646. The Civil War is raging and society turned upside down.
What should be a rare moment of blessing for the town of Ely takes a brutal turn and Ruth Flowers is left with little choice but to flee the household of Oliver Cromwell, the only home she has ever known. On the road to London, Ruth sparks an uneasy alliance with a deserting soldier, the battle-scarred and troubled Joseph. But when she reaches the city, it’s in the Poole household that she finds refuge.
Lizzie Poole, beautiful and charismatic, enthrals the vulnerable Ruth, who binds herself inextricably to Lizzie’s world. But in these troubled times, Ruth is haunted by fears of her past catching up with her. And as Lizzie’s radical ideas escalate, Ruth finds herself carried to the heart of the country’s conflict, to the trial of a king.
Based on the real figure of the extraordinary Elizabeth Poole, The Crimson Ribbon conjures a mesmerising story of two women’s obsession, superstition and hope. – Goodreads Description
The Crimson Ribbon is a beautiful tale of love and obsession and I think Katherine Clements captured the atmosphere of the time period within this book perfectly. The main character, Ruth is a really complex but frustrating person and as the book goes on you slowly begin to understand the reasoning behind her decisions. I became really invested in her character and I wanted her to realise how bad the situation she was in was and just leave or at least do something to prevent it.
Her relationship with Lizzie was really hard but interesting to read about. Ruth seemed almost blind to Lizzie’s faults which I found realistic but sometimes irritating. I normally don’t enjoy ‘love triangles’ but the way Katherine Clements wrote the Lizzie-Ruth-Joseph story was very subtle and didn’t overtake the actual story itself. Ruth’s struggle between her choices was something that I found engaging rather than boring. Both of the love interests were flawed and real which made Ruth’s choices even more realistic as she realised that they weren’t as perfect as she chose to believe they were. She sort of puts Lizzie on a pedestal and her slow realisation of her true character was something that drove the plot for me.
I loved how the time period played a significant part of the story as you learned how the society and time Ruth lived in shaped her and how historical events effected her life. Weaving Oliver Cromwell into the story was really interesting and learning about his relationship with Ruth made it all the more compelling as you learned with Ruth throughout the story. The historical aspect was just a really great part of the book and witnessing historical events through Ruth’s eyes made it even more fascinating. I also loved the Lizzie and Ruth relationship in this book as there is definitely a problem with diversity in novels and there are even fewer LGBT historical fiction novels and I think that this book delivered the relationship between Lizzie and Ruth in a really realistic and gritty way.
I couldn’t give it five stars because there were times when I became really frustrated with Ruth and I feel like some aspects were dragged out for slightly too long. Also the ending wasn’t what I had hoped for. Despite this I absolutely loved The Crimson Ribbon and I think that it’s something that a lot of people would enjoy, especially historical fiction fans.
Have you read this book? Are you interested in reading it? Let me know down in the comments! 🙂