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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
He Wears a Blue Bonnet is a work of fiction in the historical subgenre. It is best suited to the mature reading audience owing to the serious subject matter and some colorful historical language and was penned by author John Orton. Set during the seventeenth century and focusing on local history in the Tyneside area of Northern England, we find ourselves following the lives of five Scottish men who go from the heat of battle to becoming indentured servants in South Sheels. As the men try to figure out life, love, careers, and the possibility of freedom in a whole new culture in England, trouble follows them wherever they go. Will perseverance in the salt pans lead them to prosperity in a town on the rise at the start of industrialism?
Author John Orton has a real knack for bringing both historical accuracy and human emotion to life in perfect balance, creating a novel that is a love letter to the ‘Sheels’ of 1650 but also a detailed character study of five different lives changed forever by living under the Cromwellian rule. There is something for everyone in the different tales being told as they all interweave into the greater infrastructure of South Shields, but I particularly enjoyed Tomag’s rise in the world of whiskey and the way he stuck to his Scots roots in spite of being indentured and taken away from all he knew. Overall, He Wears a Blue Bonnet has much to offer readers who are seeking atmospheric and highly detailed historical fiction that also has plenty of emotional core, in-depth character study, and interesting twists.