Of Simon by Rosemary Sutcliff, written some sixty years ago, the Washington Post and Times Herald in the USA (April 4th, 1954) wrote: ‘it is a colourful story…..(and) Miss Sutcliff‘s interest in character makes even the minor characters interesting … she is adept too at communicating a sense of the Devon countryside”. The story?
All of England was taking sides for the King of Parliament in the 1640’s. In the west country the division was bitter as Cromwell gathered his forces for the final, great campaign. The clash of personal loyalties, the severing of friendship, and the bitter strain of the English Civil War of 1642-1660 are reflected in the story of Simon Carey, the farmer’s son who enlists with the Parliamentary forces – the Roundheads, and Amias Hannaford, his boyhood friend, who fights for the Royalist cause. They had the same schoolmaster, went away to the same school, and expected to return home, Simon to help his father farm, and Amias to be apprenticed to his doctor-father. But they parted when King Charles raised his standard in Nottingham, Simon to join the Fairfax Horse in Cromwell’s New Model Army, and Amias to be in the Royalist Foot. It is a story of competing loyalties in a Civil War.