Wednesday, May 18, 2016


This week's Wednesday Wonders is part of the blog tour for
Born to Treason 
by E.B. Wheeler

Book description:

It's 1586, and Queen Elizabeth I has declared war on Catholics, making it illegal to befriend a priest, read foreign books, or even own a rosary. Joan Pryce is not only Catholic, but also Welsh, a people stripped of their rights by their English overlords. Smuggling pages from a forbidden book is a small act of defiance against the queen, but it entangles Joan in a plot that may cost her heart and her life. 


           I, Joan Pryce, was born to treason. If I did not choose between betraying my country and betraying my conscience, I would betray them both. Just as my father had.

          Shovelfuls of mud thumped on his coffin. Each thud resonated in my aching chest, burying me, smothering me. I pulled the hood of my cloak lower to hide my anger and grief. They were a window into my traitorous thoughts, and anyone might be a spy for Queen Elizabeth.

          Her law condemned my father to a Protestant funeral—laid to rest in holy ground but unshriven, without the benefit of a priest or last rites. Some of the other mourners owned the implements to give my father a proper Catholic burial, bring peace to his soul and mine, but they were too frightened to bring the bells and candles from their hiding places. Too frightened to sing or pray. I glared at them from the safety of my hood, but none even glanced at me. Cowards, cowards: white-livered cowards, every one.
          And I the greatest coward of all, for I said nothing. The thought of the gallows choked off my protests. Where was my loyalty?
          Blessed Mary, forgive me.

My Book Review:

Born to Treason deals with the difficult issue of the role religion can play in politics and subjection of classes of people. Henry the VIII had renounced the Catholic Church and established a protestant religion. His daughter, Elizabeth, continued the religion and sought to wipe out Catholicism and its followers, not so much out of devotion to the state religion but to control and destroy the language and ethnic identity of the Welsh, traditional enemies of the English.

This book once again reminded me of how fortunate I feel to live in a nation that does not have a state religion, and does not impose that state religion on its subjects through seizing their property, imprisonment, torture and death. That was the situation facing the Welsh at the time of this story. Some chose to change to the state church to avoid persecution. Some still favored Catholicism, but paid lip service to stay safe. Others practiced Catholicism in secret, and were constantly at risk of exposure and arrest. This was the days of homes built with hiding places known as “priest holes.”

These were the choices facing the strong-willed heroine of this book, Joyce Pryce. She was a devout Catholic frustrated over what she not allowed to do given the limitations put on women in her day. After her father had been tortured before renouncing his faith, only to die shortly after, she was disenfranchised as a male relative took over her home and sent her to live with her godparents—lukewarm Catholics who paid lip service to the protestant faith. One priest strongly encouraged her to flee to Italy and join a convent, devoting her personal wealth to the church. She felt she was destined to marry and have a family. She found herself facing three choices for a husband: one, a handsome, charming rebel who worked to publish in the Welsh language, transport priests so they could perform services and recruited her to help transport Welsh language documents to a printer. Another man she had known as a child, who had been disfigured while serving as a soldier for the crown, who opposed rebellion against the crown, but did not go out of his way to turn in those who favored Catholicism. The third choice she considered was to flee the country to live in a Catholic nation where she could meet and marry a man of her faith. I had to wait to the end to discover her final choice.

The author has Welsh Catholic ancestors and has studied this period extensively. I found the story she wove based on her understanding of this period in Great Britain’s history interesting and exciting. The story was well written. I highly recommend this book.

About the Author:

E.B. Wheeler grew up in Georgia and California. She earned her BA in history from BYU and has graduate degrees in history and landscape architecture from Utah State University. With Welsh ancestors on one side of her family and crypto-Catholics on the other, she’s been fascinated by the story of Welsh Catholics since writing about them in her master’s thesis. She’s the award-winning author of The Haunting of Springett Hall and lives in northern Utah with her family.

Connect with E.B. Wheeler:

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter
 Purchase Links:

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