The Wessex Turncoat by Michael E. Wills


In the interest of transparent accountability I hereby issue the following disclaimer:  Neither the fact that I won a copy in a giveaway on that very fine Facebook page The Review, and that the copy I am reviewing is autographed by the author with an encouraging sentiment included, nor the fact that much of The Wessex Turncoat takes place during The American Revolution which just happens to be the subject of my current work in process, have in any way influenced or infringed upon my integrity as the founder of this very fine book review blog.  Never even entered the mind; so be comforted, my book review reading peeps, by this humble yet wise reader, writer and reviewer of books and his impeccable, honesty-driven character.

Aaron Mews is a seventeen year old blacksmith’s apprentice who volunteers to take his father’s place in delivering a horse to a buyer in town some miles away from home.  Everything is going just fine until his inexperience and naiveté finds him in dire straits and at the mercy of an army recruiting troop.  Now, I have read the most excellent Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian so I have a pretty good idea how hard life was for a British sailor.  In The Wessex Turncoat we get a good glimpse into the life of a Redcoat infantryman, including the, shall we say, unorthodox recruiting techniques.  His regiment is eventually sent to North America to help quell the colonial unrest.  During the course of the book we see Mewie grow into his new role as a soldier and as a man who is not afraid to take risks to perform his responsibilities.   Faced with privation, hardship and loss he refuses to lose hope and rebounds from the challenges.  The research that went into this book is evident from the squire-peasant relationship, the way of life as a soldier, the topography and battle scenes.  When you combine the scholarship involved with an easy reading style and an engaging story line with enough surprises to keep the reader happy and guessing, you have the makings of a enjoyable read that you may even learn from.

All kidding around aside, this book stands out on it’s own merit…a solid 4 star tale – one that isn’t finished yet  🙂

About the author:

I was born many years ago in Newport on the Isle of Wight and attended the Priory Boys’ School and later Carisbrooke Grammar. On leaving school I trained as a teacher at St Peter’s College,  Birmingham, before teaching mathematics and physical education for two years at a rural secondary school in Kent.

I decided that I would like to teach abroad and so I re-trained to become a teacher of English as a Foreign Language. I was lucky enough to get a one year contract to work in Sweden, a country I learned to love. In fact I stayed there for thirteen years. In 1979 I returned to UK with my wife Barbro and our three daughters, with a plan. We wanted to start our own business, and we did. It was called the Salisbury School of English.

From small beginnings the school developed into substantial business enterprise. I retired in 2008 after over forty years in the field of education. Along the way, I was President of Salisbury Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Co-Chair of English UK, the national association of English language training providers.

Currently, I am employed part-time as Ombudsman for English UK. Life has never been busier and I divide my spare time between enjoying my grandchildren, and indulging my interests in writing, carpentry, amateur radio and sailing.

I have had a life-long interest in history and in particular that of the Viking period. Thus it was that I was very pleased to focus on this by doing academic and field research for two novels about this turbulent time in English and Scandinavian history.

Two other areas of history which interest me greatly are the American War of Independence; this is the subject of my latest novel, “The Wessex Turncoat”, and the Dunkirk Evacuation in the Second World War. As regards the latter, I have created a website with resource material for anyone interested in this subject.

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