Piers Alexander

A Voyage into the C17th

The History Interpreter

As someone who ‘inhabits’ the seventeenth century as an historical interpreter and a fan of historical novels, I jumped at the chance to review Piers Alexander’s debut novel The Bitter Trade. The Bitter Trade was a delight and no glaring anachronisms detracted from the story. The book is set at the time of the political turmoil of the Glorious Revolution in 1688 and the action is fast paced, making the book hard to put down. The plot is complex enough to hold the interest of the reader without being confusing. The characters, particularly that of the hero Calumny Spinks, are well drawn and believable. The Bitter Trade is also beautifully written, with intricately drawn descriptive passages. Alexander’s characters do not speak in genuine seventeenth century language but this is just as well as it would alienate the majority of readers, rendering as it would the text incomprehensible to all but Shakespearian scholars. The author gets the balance just right.