review: The Lion Triumphant

The Lion Triumphant

by Philippa Carr

I finished this book just in time to post a review on the 29th anniversary of the author’s death, which occurred while she was at sea on one of her winter cruises in January of 1993. She was 86-years-old and still writing—most likely the last book of this series, which the publisher titled Daughters of England.

Carr’s novels, now that I’ve read four of them, tend to be adventurous and a little fantastical. The first, The Miracle at St. Bruno’s, began with a baby appearing in the nativity cradle at an Abbey and this one, The Lion Triumphant, with a kidnapping on the high seas. But they’re also laden with history—more so than her Holt novels—taking readers from Henry VIII’s court through WWII and including all the political and religious strife of their eras. These books are great history lessons through the perspectives of prominent (but fictional) families of England.

The Lion Triumphant’s protagonist is Catharine Kingsman, daughter of Bruno & Damask from the previous book. She’s had a devastating disappointment with her first love and is not ready to be wooed when she meets forceful, arrogant sea captain, Jake Pennlyon. Trying to escape his advances, she ends up captive on a Spanish vessel headed into enemy waters.

While this is all very exciting and I liked Catharine’s personality very much, I never could take to the men in this story. The author is usually good at exonerating a suspect character at the end, but I could not like Jake Pennlyon at all. His actions were too violent, and while reading I felt that Catharine accepted things she should not have (although she gave a good argument constantly). I do feel these books are best read in order, as the new protagonist seems to be daughter of the old one each time. Next up is The Witch from the Sea, featuring Linnet Pennlyon.