This novel has long been out of print, and for those more familiar with Broster’s later, Jacobite related work, represents a departure, although the French Revolution, in which this novel is set, was her favourite period. Like Ships in the Bay! Which I reviewed some months ago, this features a tortured hero, separated from his love by force of circumstances. However, I feel that the former book is the more mature work.
The Mr Rowl of the title is a dashing young officer of almost nauseating integrity and goodness who has the misfortune to be a French prisoner of war in the England of 1812. He has given his parole, which means that provided he stays within certain limits he is free to come and go as he pleases. Along with other French officers, he frequents the houses of the local gentry, and in one, he meets our heroine, Miss Forrest. Sadly she is engaged to one of these local gentry who feels that Mr Rowl is paying far too much attention to his betrothed. When Mr Rowl breaks his parole on a technicality, he arranges for him to be imprisoned, and our poor hero’s fortunes decline from this point forwards.
I did feel that much of the book was a catalogue of misfortune, with things continually going from bad to worse. The relationship between hero and heroine was also of rather less importance than that between Mr Rowl and his later benefactor Captain Barrington, to the extent that fans of slash may find this book of interest. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the book and it’s worth ferreting out if you can find a copy.