I have touched on this recently...how I would think that someone like me would grow tired of the Tudors, as I have been reading books and watching shows and films about them faithfully for years...and how honestly I thought I was starting to feel a bit less enamored in recent days. However, this author has such a spot on voice when it comes to writing about the Tudors. Queen Elizabeth I is arguably my most favorite Tudor figure and the depiction of her in this book is exactly as I imagine she was in life. This book has gone a step further by giving us a glimpse of Elizabeth had she been a mother via her interaction with her cousin and ward, Mary Shelton. However, in her dealings with Mary, as with any sovereign who is also a parent, she can't quite get past her queenly duties and responsibilities to do what is right and expected.
It would seem that Elizabeth's ultimate aim for her 'ladies' would be to remain marriage-less, like herself. However, if they did decide to marry they must have her exclusive permission and often Elizabeth would arrange a powerful match for them. When she does so with Mary, trying to match her with Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, Mary balks, as she finds him to be a cruel lecher. Instead, she falls in love with a man of low circumstance (comparably) and Elizabeth refuses to allow the marriage. What happens next is the explosion of Elizabeth's wrath and the resulting plight of serious danger for the newly married couple. Again, we are reminded that times were perilous with the Tudors. Whether you lived in the time of Henry VIII, Queen Mary or Elizabeth herself, the political intrigue and dangers knew no bounds. The author brings this across beautifully in her well-researched prose.
This is not the first time I have recommended a book by Ms. Barnhill and I'm sure it certainly will not be the last. If you want to read historical fiction about the Tudors, her books are the ones you want.
Read my review of At the Mercy of the Queen
About the book
Publication Date: March 18, 2014
St. Martin’s Griffin
Mistress Mary Shelton is Queen Elizabeth’s favorite ward, enjoying every privilege the position affords. The queen loves Mary like a daughter, and, like any good mother, she wants her to make a powerful match. The most likely prospect: Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. But while Oxford seems to be everything the queen admires: clever, polished and wealthy, Mary knows him to be lecherous, cruel, and full of treachery. No matter how hard the queen tries to push her into his arms, Mary refuses.
Instead, Mary falls in love with a man who is completely unsuitable. Sir John Skydemore is a minor knight with little money, a widower with five children. Worst of all, he’s a Catholic at a time when Catholic plots against Elizabeth are rampant. The queen forbids Mary to wed the man she loves. When the young woman, who is the queen’s own flesh and blood, defies her, the couple finds their very lives in danger as Elizabeth’s wrath knows no bounds.
About the Author
Anne Clinard Barnhill has been writing or dreaming of writing for most of her life. For the past twenty years, she has published articles, book and theater reviews, poetry, and short stories. Her first book, AT HOME IN THE LAND OF OZ, recalls what it was like growing up with an autistic sister. Her work has won various awards and grants. Barnhill holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Besides writing, Barnhill also enjoys teaching, conducting writing workshops, and facilitating seminars to enhance creativity. She loves spending time with her three grown sons and their families. For fun, she and her husband of thirty years, Frank, take long walks and play bridge. In rare moments, they dance.
For more information, please visit Anne Clinard Barnhill’s website. You can also find her onFacebook and Twitter.
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A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for providing it.