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the escapades of tribulation johnson : a captivating read

Karen Brook’s latest novel THE ESCAPADES OF TRIBULATION JOHNSON is a captivating read. She is also the author of The Good Wife of Bath.

THE ESCAPADES OF TRIBULATION JOHNSON is of medium size but very thick (over five hundred pages ), divided into five Acts each with several scenes, a Prologue and an Epilogue. Vibrantly written, extensively researched, it is full of complex, fascinating detail.

We enter the dynamic world of Restoration theatre, which is at times cutthroat. We learn some of the unspoken traditions of the theatre ( for example the Scottish Play and not whistling in the theatre) plus all the hard work backstage hidden from the audience wardrobe, stage hands and so on ) and how performers lived hand to mouth, at times.

The rivalry between the two companies (the Duke’s and the King’s Company) is depicted. Also, most important for the narrative is the swirling dangerous political scene, with spies ( ‘intelligencers’), counter spies and assorted treacherous undercover plots…Unexpected family twists and romance are also included. The politics of the era are most important.

The novel opens in 1679. Tribulation is exiled to London by her stern father to stay with her cousin, so that she does not disrupt her sister’s forced marriage. Tribulation’s father harshly excommunicates her as degrading and irreligious, denying all contact. What no one has realised is that her cousin is Aphra Behn, the ground breaking playwright and controversial poetess, and author now considered a feminist inspiration, who works for the stage and uses her plays and other works for political commentary. Behn has also been a former spy and traitor’s mistress. For Aphra the theatre is a place of artistry and camouflage. She is involved with the Duke’s Company at the Dorset Garden Theatre.

Aphra and Tribulation discuss society’s patronising misogynist expectations of women at the time. At first Tribulation is asked to be on stage but ‘dries’ and causes a disruption to the performance. She then becomes a prompter and generally works backstage to great effect helping the company learn their lines and rehearse,  prepare costumes etc becoming more accepted and making friends (and jealous enemies) eventually also appearing usefully on stage again.

Tribulation is almost incredulous at her luck as she discovers life in London and the enchanting world of the theatre. Major non political events ( eg the Frost Fair) are also mentioned and there are wonderful brief snapshots of description ( eg ‘the sky was a wash of rose, gold and lavender, a queen’s bracelet’).

Aphra encourages her to be independent and think, write and speak for herself.  However there are drastic consequences for those who don’t obey society’s rules because women are not believed to have ideas, a voice or write for living, even if they publish something as anonymous. Tribulation and Aphra meet King Charles and weather character assassination and derision, surviving hidden, insidious treacherous plots at the highest level. Can they save the King? And then when he passes, the ascension of William and Mary.

A flame from Aphra’s multifarious entangled undercover, sensitive past reappears – can Tribulation and Aphra’s relationship survive  skepticism , treachery and religious intolerance ?

There are labyrinthine unexpected family revelations for Tribulation and she falls in love – will it work out?

This exciting page turner will leave you wanting more.

Book Details

ISBN 9781867227229
On Sale Date 05/07/2023
No. Of Pages 528
Publisher HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd
Dimensions (HxWxD in mm) H235xW154xS45

Product code: 9781867227229



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