Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle

Readers of this blog may know that I am quite partial to historical novels and the Tudor period is one of many of my favourite periods in history. 

I remember learning about the Tudors in school and being fascinated by King Henry and his strong of ill-fated wives, and the ins and outs of Tudor court. Now as an adult, I've learnt even more about the nature of court politics that could never be taught in school; the affairs, the gossips and the scandals on which both reputations and lives could be overturned in an instant. 

I was delighted to be sent a copy of Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle to review, but after reading the press release and seeing that it was the follow up to her debut novel Queen’s Gambit, I had to read the first installment straight away. 

In Queen’s Gambit we are introduced to Katherine Parr, who is rejoining court after losing her husband. As she readjusts to the gossiping, backstabbing and fickle nature of the court, she finds herself courted by the King himself and before she knows it, she is made Queen.

As well as her unexpected ascension to the throne, we also have the story of her faithful maid Dot Fownten, who has also unexpectedly risen from her Lady’s helper to the right hand of the Queen of England. Their relationship is a beautiful friendship and almost sisterhood of two women who are so far apart in status and yet more true to each other than the closest of friends could be. 

I think Katherine Parr’s time on the throne may the least documented time in Tudor history, as I've always found the other wives’ stories seem to dominate this era. Elizabeth Fremantle depicts Katherine as a strong, intelligent and caring heroine and I adored her character from the start. She is exactly as I would picture an ideal Queen to be, especially with all the trials and tribulations she had to deal with, including her dangerously capricious husband, her ambitious brother, the precarious state of religious and political affairs and the backstabbing drama of life at court. 

From the first page I was hooked into this turbulent and colourful period in time. Not only are the characters incredibly well painted, but the era bleeds from pages in a riot of rich English settings and sumptuous scandals. I thoroughly enjoyed this and can’t wait to get stuck into the second book. 

Queen’s Gambit is a luscious read for history lovers and fans of the Tudor period, where under the pomp and extravagance of the elite, nobody, not even a Queen is truly safe.  

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