Book Review: Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris

Act of Oblivion is upmarket historical fiction at its best. Harris has taken an interesting event from the past, used real historical characters who disappeared from the record and made up others, to craft a story that is gripping and thought provoking. 
Edward Whalley and William Goffe were real officers for the Cromwell side during the English Civil War and both signed the death warrant of Charles I. After the Restoration, the pair fled to North America, where many Puritans were sympathetic to them and helped them survive and evade arrest.
Harris’s book fictionalizes the details and offers an interpretation of what might have happened.  He also ratchets up the tension by inventing a vengeful agent of the new king’s court, Richard Naylor, who is determined to capture and kill all the escaped regicides, Whalley and Goffe in particular.

For fans of historical fiction of the Early American period, this book is a treat, and for readers who enjoy a layered story that asks questions about the nature of freedom, this book is an excellent choice—you won’t be disappointed.
For writers, notice how the POV switching becomes more frequent as the pace speeds up and we approach a turning point/decision point.  Then Harris slows it back down after the turning point—masterful.
Harris delivers on the premise—take a peek for yourself!

If you decide to discuss this book with your book group, try this cake, a favorite of B&B guests back in the day and a nice English style treat for your tea.

Published by Robin Henry

Independent Scholar and Book Coach specializing in Historical Fiction and Literary Fan Fiction.

%d bloggers like this: