How Beautiful They Were is a beautifully crafted story of adventure through the historical theatre period in England and the United States during the 1830s, 40s and 50s. Packed with drama, racism, revenge, vulnerability and ingenuity, this is an outstanding novel.
John James Beaufort is a talented actor who joins the Dyer McCarthy Troupe and befriends the ageing Colonel Tearwood and Dyer’s daughter Lucretia.
“Lucretia McCarthy was a frightened creature whose youth had been poisoned and her dreams stole, who was desperate to escape her circumstances, but helpless to do so, and who went about the streets of the world smiling and polite, living out these lies to hide a private sickness of anger and shame at her plight.”
John James and Lucretia fall in love and plan to run away together. Dyer who is an evil and brutal man, having sexually and physically abused his daughter for many years, discovers the plan and stages his own retribution by murdering his daughter and making it look like John James was responsible. John James cannot prevent the murder of Lucretia but does manage to kill Dyer, and seriously injure his associate, however, the situation now appears as though he is solely responsible for murdering them both. His old friend Colonel Tearwood, who believes John James’ account, gives him the contact details of his sister, Millicent Harrison, in New York, and helps him escape England.
With a secret to hide, the threat of his past catching up with him, and a new life of forge out in America, John James Beaufort, now known as Nathaniel Luck, begins his adventure in America as he maps out a life within the theatre world. Millicent is a shrewd lady that Nathaniel confides in and they remain close friends, along with her son Robert. Robert writes several plays which give Nathaniel the opportunity of being a lead actor and a route into the flourishing spectacle of American theatre.
Under the name of Colonel Tearwood’s American Theatre Company, Robert and Nathaniel embark on a series of plays, with political undertones, shocking repercussions, and high drama on and off the stage. The narrative is immersive, outrageous and highly entertaining, where each character is wonderfully drawn to add depth to the novel with captivating brilliance. The beautiful prose from Boston Teran lives in a world of artistry that is suitably placed in this story of theatre, with meticulous attention to the flow of dialogue between fabulous characters and a plot that is exciting, heartbreaking and full of wonder.
This is the best book I’ve read this year! Well, it’s the first book I’ve read this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it remained there for the next twelve months. It is a book that is splendidly different and takes us on a unique journey which will always shine for its individual triumph.
I would highly recommend this book and I would like to thank Boston Teran, Julia Drake and the team for providing me with a copy of the book in return for an honest review.