Midwest Book Review, USA: Nelson's Folly
I wasn't sure how a novel focusing on the battles at home and abroad of one of Britain's major naval heroes would be greeted in the US. Therefore I was very curious to see what their senior reviewer, Diane Donovan, who has worked with over 300 publishers and over 50,000 books over 35 years, would think of 𝘕𝘦𝘭𝘴𝘰𝘯'𝘴 𝘍𝘰𝘭𝘭y.
I was delighted to discover how well she understood what I was trying to achieve with Folly; that she could recognise both my commitment to restoring the facts about my unfairly maligned ancestor and my efforts to also ensure it was a good yarn. She seemed to genuinely enjoy the story.
Image: Review in Midwest Book Review, Vol 21, Number 11, November 2021. See below for full text.
Text in full: Review by Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review, USA.
Nelson’s Folly Oliver Greeves Independently Published 9780645023701 $18.95 Paper/$5.99 Kindle Ordering: https://www.amazon.com/Nelsons-Folly-Oliver-Greeves/dp/0645023701 Author website: www.fannynelsonfan.com
Set against the backdrop of the French Revolutionary Wars in 1792, Nelson's Folly is a story of a couple separated by war. They conduct themselves in different milieus under vastly changed conditions both at home and abroad.
When Horatio finally returns to Fanny, albeit a much-changed war hero after years in the Royal Navy, the true questions of duty, love, and the individual life pursuits of each come to the foreground.
The role Horatio Nelson envisions for his wife and family as he is away doing his duty is one that challenges Fanny on many levels: "'You, Fanny, have a role to play for me and for Josiah. I want you to be my representative in England. You will move up in society as I am promoted. I will have money then. You will buy good dresses and fine hats. And visit London and Bath and great country houses. We shall write to each other about everything.’"
While on the surface, given the times, Fanny is not being asked to do anything extraordinary; given the nature of her own heart and the rebellion social change brings to it, she in fact finds herself navigating murky, dangerous waters indeed; both in her marriage and in her social milieu.
Horatio's interactions with his wife over the years give him a glimpse of these changes, giving readers thought-provoking insights into the times, Fanny's transformation, and the impact of war, distance, and social change on the family. Their acknowledgement of these changes is astutely captured: "Her knowledge of current events startled him. She saw too that his sense of destiny or ambition made the possibility of an early retirement, if he were to be reinstated, unlikely."
Nelson's Folly is a compelling, vividly portrayed tale that is well grounded in a sense of the changing times, yet also nicely rooted in memorable characters who each are understandable as they make choices for both themselves and each other against the political and cultural currents of their times: "She knew Horatio would want the same as St Vincent and Duncan, at least. His resentment would know no bounds if there were a lack of recognition or an implication that his family were of insufficient quality."
Perhaps one reason why this story proves so evocative and realistic is that Oliver Greeves is a direct descendant of the real Frances (Fanny), Viscountess Nelson and her son, Josiah Nisbet. Years of research on her life and times contribute to the authentic feel of Nelson's Folly as it examines the concurrent impacts of duty and love.
Both Fanny and Horatio are memorable, likeable characters. Their dilemmas are well presented, both individually and as a couple, making Nelson's Folly an astute consideration of duty, commitment, love, family, and social aspirations alike.
Historical novel and political history readers, as well as general-interest readers who enjoy stories of British society in 18th century England, will find it an accessible, thoroughly involving saga rich in psychological, political, and social inspection.
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Nelson’s Folly is available in hard copy or on kindle at Amazon.com.au and other online book stores or at The Constant Reader Bookshop in Mosman and Crows Nest.