Anya Seton, first published by Hodder & Stoughton, 1962This historical novel spans the time of the Jacobite Risings of 1715 and 1745, centring on the colourful story of Charles Radcliffe, a brave and loyal supporter of the Stuart Cause, and Jenny, his adored daughter, from a secret marriage in his youth. The novel is a masterpiece of historical reconstruction, embracing the lives of James Radcliffe, the young Earl of Derwentwater, and his high-spirited, philandering brother, Charles.
Six impressions in paperback 1964-1970
The fictional story of Jenny, which is based on a traditional tale, is developed around the dramatic events of the two ill-fated rebellions and moves between Northumberland, London and Virginia. In an author's note Anya Seton explains how she has adhered scrupulously to the facts where they can be found, and details the sources of her research. She explains how the Northumbrian portions of the book were a true labour of love that began on the day that she first saw the tragic, beautiful ruins of Dilston Castle. The title of the book is taken from the Devil's Water, the burn that flows by these ruins - the 'Devil's Water' being an old simile for fear. 'L'eau bénite du diable, c'est la peur' was a mediaeval French saying.
The novel illustrates how the Radcliffes had great need to transmute the 'Devil's Water' into courage, as their family motto indicates. Anya Seton, who was a best-selling author in the sixties, writes with passion and zest, combining meticulous research and authentic period detail with a rattling good yarn. Glowing reviews written at the time of publication refer to her gift of breathing life into the most insignificant characters and the atmosphere of the era that she evokes around them. 'Devil Water' vividly recreates the conflict, courage and loyalty displayed by the Radcliffes, and paints a vivid picture of the turbulent Jacobite times in which they lived.
574 pages: Endpapers with maps of Northumberland and Virginia and brief Radcliffe Family Tree