Category Archives: 16th Century

review: The Wild Irish

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The Wild Irish by Robin Maxwell In 1593, Grace O’Malley, Mother of the Irish Rebellion, famously met with Queen Elizabeth I of England with a petition to set her son free of Elizabeth’s English-Irish governor and a few other concessions. Robin Maxwell takes this historic event and turns it into a retelling of Grace’s life, from a young girl sailing… Read more »

review: Virgin: Prelude to the Throne

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Virgin: Prelude to the Throne by Robin Maxwell I knew I’d like this one, as I’ve liked all of her novels. She has a distinct writing style that includes plenty of drama, yet stays true to the facts. The story begins with the death of Henry VIII. Elizabeth is relieved when she is sent to live with the Queen Dowager,… Read more »

review: The Queen’s Bastard

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The Queen’s Bastard by Robin Maxwell One of the great rumors surrounding Queen Elizabeth I is whether or not she had a bastard child or children. There have been several books written on the subject and many theories abound, including the historical figures Edward de Vere, William Shakespeare and one Arthur Dudley, who was notated in Philip, the King of… Read more »

review: Wolf Hall

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Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel Thomas Cromwell, one of Tudor England’s most denigrated figures, is given an honest voice as the protagonist in this minutely detailed, albeit partial, fictional autobiography. It begins with a scene from Cromwell’s violent youth and then jumps to his patronage under Archbishop Wolsey, intermingling some flashback scenes throughout. Cromwell’s rise after Wolsey’s death is very… Read more »

review: Bring Up the Bodies

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Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel Continuing the fascinating portrayal of Thomas Cromwell from her award winning novel, Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel seamlessly begins where the former left off: en route to Wolf Hall, the Seymour family home, where all are aware of the king’s budding desire for Jane, the meek and quiet daughter of the house. Anne Boleyn’s… Read more »

review: The Countess

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The Countess by Rebecca Johns One would expect a novel on the life of Erzsebet Bathory to lean toward the horror genre of literature, but this surprisingly sympathetic retelling of her life is anything but gory and cringe-worthy. Starting out with a letter from her priest-jailor at the end of her life, in which she is being held captive in… Read more »

review: The Queen’s Rival

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The Queen’s Rival by Diane Haeger Bess Blount is well-known as Henry VIII’s first official mistress, but few novels have delved into the details of her life. This story begins with the blue-eyed, blonde beauty as a young teen on her way to court. There she befriends Elizabeth Bryan and Gil Tailbois, and begins a fascination for the young king…. Read more »

review: The Other Queen

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The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory Mary, Queen of Scots is a newly arrived ‘guest’ of England’s Queen Elizabeth I at the home of George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury and his indomitable wife, Bess. As told from three perspectives (George, Mary and Bess) this is the story of the many plots to free the Scots queen and the dwindling fortune… Read more »

review: The Constant Princess

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The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory I first read this book years ago when it was newly published and remember it as one of my favorite Philippa Gregory novels. I liked the character of Arthur and Catalina’s descriptions of her life in the palaces of Spain. I do remember thinking the depiction of Henry VII was… different. And I enjoy… Read more »

review: The Boleyn Inheritance

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The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory I listened to this on unabridged audio and have decided Philippa Gregory’s books are much better read aloud than read to oneself. This one is even better than some of the others because it has 3 narrators: Jane Boleyn, Katherine Howard and Anne of Cleves, each doing a perfect job with their role. Jane… Read more »

review: The Confessions of Catherine de Medici

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The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C. W. Gortner C. W. Gortner has once again taken a controversial historical figure and made her into an admirable protagonist. Like Juana from The Last Queen, Catherine de Medici has not enjoyed a plethora of novels depicting her in a positive light. From Jean Plaidy’s trilogy (Madame Serpent, The Italian Woman and… Read more »

review: At the King’s Pleasure

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At the King’s Pleasure by Kate Emerson Anne Stafford, Lady Hastings, is one of the many familiar names to readers of Tudor fiction. Most know her as one of Henry VIII’s early conquests, though the details of their liaison have been sketchy—until now. We follow Anne from the time between her marriages, when she was under the control of her… Read more »