In February 1820, a gang of men, led by Arthur Thistlewood and his committee gather in a loft to assassinate the British Cabinet, ostensibly dining together in nearby Grosvenor Square. The plot has been masterminded by a government spy. Though the Committee is hanged, their ambitions do not die with them.
Driven by hunger and easily led by a government spy and agent provocateur, it has been easy for historians to dismiss the so-called “Cato Street Conspirators” as misguided fools. But with what meager resources, they fought to the bone for universal suffrage! Judy Meewezen plunders her own extensive research and experiences to imagine the story from the participants’ point of view, of their own and their families’ efforts to create a fairer world.
“Meewezen’s beautiful story-telling brings the fascinating events of the Cato Street Conspiracy, London, 1820, to life at last. Turtle Soup for the King is meticulously researched, the result of painstaking visits to archives and locations in Britain and beyond, as well as creative immersion in the back-story of a momentous, but all-too-often overlooked historical moment.
It is an essentially British story, but it is also a local story with universal significance. We need this kind of fiction to understand where we come from and, in this case, where we might be heading - particularly in the light of recent global events that seek to restrict human rights and frustrate personal ambition, and in which populations feel increasingly alienated from those who seek to govern them.
Looking at and reading the completed novel, with its radiant prose, I am struck by how much I want this story to exist; I was staring into space, and now I see it all in my mind’s eye.
I will recommend the novel to all students studying the Romantic period, which I teach passionately. This book will make them understand what those times were all about.
Turtle Soup for the King explores and maps human tragedy and great emotions against the facts of a misfired conspiracy - a very human story, that from now on, needs never be forgotten.”
- Dr Sibylle Erle MA PhD FRSA FHEA
“It is exceptionally well researched, and shows a deep understanding of the circumstances, personal and historical, that could lead people to imagine that they could assassinate their own government and set off a popular rebellion. There are fictional events and characters, but these fit so well with what is known that the dividing line is almost imperceptible, even to the well-informed reader. It pulls off the trick of making the conspiracy seem at the same time both bizarre and understandable. The historical landscape is described in evocative detail, the characterization is compelling, and the way the period setting is evoked is almost miraculous. The wives and families of the plotters emerge particularly strongly, giving the whole extraordinary drama humanity and depth. The build-up is tense, and the closing sections genuinely moving. This is one of those rare historical Novels which even historical specialists can enjoy. The sections set in Manchester should give it an additional regional audience, building on awareness of Peterloo. If you can run to a few period illustrations, these would complete the remarkable job of bringing the Cato Street conspirators to life.”
- Robert Poole, Professor of History, UCLAN, School of Humanities
Publishing date: January 27, 2021
Paperback: 520 pages
Dimensions: 6 x 1,6 x 9 inches
Londoner, Judy Meewezen is a full-time writer. She earned a living in the mainstream print and broadcast media, firstly as an arts journalist and broadcaster, later in creative jobs in television documentaries and drama series in Britain and Europe. In her own story-telling, she is drawn to the skittishness of memory and to secrets from the shadows of history. Judy enjoys a widely scattered community of family and close friends. She is a traveler, an honorary Austrian, a lover of South Africa, and an enthusiastic cook.
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