review: The Murder in the Tower

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murderinthetowerThe Murder in the Tower
by Jean Plaidy

Set in the court of James I of England, this is the story of Frances, Countess of Essex, and the path she took to rid herself of her husband so that she could marry the king’s favorite, Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset.

Written in classic Plaidy style, many would not enjoy this novel because it’s lack of flowery prose. As usual, however, there is plenty of political intrigue and the characters dispositions and motives are perfectly portrayed.

The book description tries to make it more mystical than it is; the witchcraft is entirely explained by a normal sequence of events, though the characters see what they wish to see in the circumstances. If you’ve read The Wise Woman by Philippa Gregory you will recognize the same type of witchcraft, which I found interesting because I thought the author had made that up. It’s not meant to seem real in Plaidy’s novel as it is in Gregory’s.

This is the first novel I’ve read of James I and I always feel that reading a Plaidy novel first is a good idea because they are so accurate — you get more fact than fiction. I liked it well enough, though I can see where other readers of historical fiction would find it dry and boring.