Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Review: "Queen's Gambit" by Elizabeth Fremantle

Synopsis:  Widowed for the second time at age thirty-one Katherine Parr falls deeply for the dashing courtier Thomas Seymour and hopes at last to marry for love. However, obliged to return to court, she attracts the attentions of the ailing, egotistical, and dangerously powerful Henry VIII, who dispatches his love rival, Seymour, to the Continent. No one is in a position to refuse a royal proposal so, haunted by the fates of his previous wives—two executions, two annulments, one death in childbirth—Katherine must wed Henry and become his sixth queen.

Katherine has to employ all her instincts to navigate the treachery of the court, drawing a tight circle of women around her, including her stepdaughter, Meg, traumatized by events from their past that are shrouded in secrecy, and their loyal servant Dot, who knows and sees more than she understands. With the Catholic faction on the rise once more, reformers being burned for heresy, and those close to the king vying for position, Katherine’s survival seems unlikely. Yet as she treads the razor’s edge of court intrigue, she never quite gives up on love.

 My Thoughts:  I loved this book!  Katherine Parr seems to get kind of forgotten in all the drama of Henry VIII's wives so it was refreshing to read a book that focused on her time as queen of England.

Ms. Fremantle does an amazing job of portraying Katherine as an intelligent and witty woman who used her brains to keep from following Henry's other wives to the block.  She is such a fascinating historical figure; she wrote books and was very dedicated to the Protestant religion.  I also loved how the author portrayed her as a loving mother who took care of Henry's children as well as her step-daughter.  I did feel really bad for Katherine; she didn't get a choice in her first three marriages and when she finally did get to marry for love, things didn't turn out so well for her.

What I loved most about this book was Dot's character.  This is a Tudor novel so the usual suspects were present but I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dot's story intermingled with that of Katherine's.  Dot was Katherine's maid and I loved seeing the Tudor court through the eyes of a servant.  Dot was like the eyes and ears of the story; what wasn't elaborated on during Katherine's sections was usually explained from Dot's perspective. The author described a lot of the setting (different palaces, gowns, jewels, historical figures, etc.) through Dot's eyes and I felt like that made for a very unique story.  Dot was also just an incredibly likable character and I cared about her experiences and point of view.

Queen's Gambit is very well-written and appears to be a well-researched novel and as always I really appreciated the historical information that was included at the end of the bookI am definitely looking forward to more books by this author! This is a great book for Tudor fans looking for something out of the ordinary. 4 stars.

I received this book from Historical Fiction Virtual Tours in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

Elizabeth Fremantle holds a first class degree in English and an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck College London. She has contributed as a fashion editor to various publications including Vogue, Elle and The Sunday Times. QUEEN'S GAMBIT is her debut novel and is the first in a Tudor trilogy. The second novel, SISTERS OF TREASON, will be released in 2014. She lives in London.

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