The Virgin's Lover (Boleyn) by Philippa Gregory Hardback for my collection
"Bestseller Gregory captivates again with this expertly crafted historical about the beautiful young Virgin Queen, portrayed as a narcissistic, neurotic home-wrecker. As in her previous novels about Tudor England (The Queen's Fool, etc.), Gregory amasses a wealth of colorful period detail to depict the shaky first days of Elizabeth I's reign. The year is 1558, an especially dangerous time for the nation: no bishop will coronate Henry VIII's Protestant daughter, the treasury is bankrupt, the army is unpaid and demoralized. Meanwhile, the French are occupying Scotland and threatening to install "that woman"—Mary, Queen of Scots—on the throne. Ignoring the matrimonial advice of pragmatic Secretary of State William Cecil, the 25-year-old Elizabeth persists in stringing along Europe's most eligible bachelors, including King Philip of Spain and the Hapsburg archduke Ferdinand. It's no secret why: she's fallen for her "dark, saturnine" master of horse, Sir Robert Dudley, whose traitorous family history and marriage to the privately Catholic Amy make him an unsuitable consort. Gregory deftly depicts this love triangle as both larger than life and all too familiar; all three characters are sympathetic without being likable, particularly the arch-mistress Elizabeth, who pouts, throws tantrums, connives and betrays with queenly impunity. After a while the plot stagnates, as the lovers flaunt their emotions in the face of repetitious arguments from Amy, Cecil and various other scandalized members of the court. But readers addicted to Gregory's intelligent, well-researched tales of intrigue and romance will be enthralled, right down to the teasingly tragic ending".
The Concubine: A Novel by Norah Lofts
"Acclaimed and beloved historical novelist Norah Lofts brings to life the danger, romance, and intrigue of the Tudor court that forever altered the course of English history. The king first noticed Anne Boleyn as a heartbroken sixteen-year-old, sullen and beautiful after a thwarted romance with the son of the Earl of Northumberland. "All eyes and hair," a courtier had said disparagingly of her, but when King Henry VIII fell for young Anne, nothing could keep him from what he desired. Against common sense and the urgings of his most trusted advisors, Henry defied all, blindly following his passion for Anne, using the power he held over the bodies and souls of all who reside in his realm and beyond. Anne's ascent to the throne elevates her from lady-in-waiting to the highest position a woman could attain, but her life spirals out of control when Henry is driven to desperate acts of betrayal and violence. The consequences of Anne's rise to power and eventual demise are felt well beyond the inner circle of the court. Loyalties, to church, to queen, to country, are tested, and -- in the wake of the king's volatile passions -- can be an unpredictable matter of life and death.
First published in 1963 and adored by readers for generations, Lofts' lush and moving portrayal of the ambitious and doomed Anne Boleyn will continue to reign as a classic retelling of this epic chapter of history vividly brought to life".
Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange
"Grange (Mr. Darcy's Diary) continues Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, beginning on Darcy and Elizabeth's wedding day and follows the two on their honeymoon trip to Paris, the Alps and Venice during a lull in the Napoleonic Wars. Told from Elizabeth's point of view, the story is about her expanding horizons as she leaves the sheltered life she led at Netherfield for her new world as a wife and a traveler outside England. Darcy's continued lack of physical attention to Elizabeth makes her realize that something isn't quite right, but the clues provided in the text are too subtle for her to figure out his secret. By the time Darcy reveals his true nature, more than two thirds of the way through the book, Elizabeth is able to accept his announcement (which she sees as less disturbing than her more mundane fears), but its impact on the reader is greatly diluted by the revealing title. Grange manages to capture the period in a manner that will appeal to Austen fans, but vampire fans are likely to be disappointed".
Congratulations to Cortney for winning the giveaway for a copy of Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantle.