Following straight on from Lady Jane Grey / Queen Jane The Lady of Misrule, The Queen’s Sorrow covers the first year of the reign of Queen Mary – her marriage to Philip II of Spain, her first phantom pregnancy, and England’s return to Catholicism 20 years after Henry VIII’s break with Rome and 6 years of pure Protestantism under Edward VI.
It’s an oblique telling, through the eyes of Spanish sundial-maker Raphael. Far from home and family, he finds himself lodging with an English family, the Kitsons, and becomes friends with their housekeeper, Cecily, and tries to befriend her four year old son, Nicholas.
A chance encounter with the Queen and a misunderstanding of her faith ultimately have terrible consequences.
Publisher’s page: The Queen’s Sorrow – Suzannah Dunn
Another easy read as a break from SPQR. In this case, literally – larger font and wider spacing than Mary Beard’s book.
The Lady of Misrule is the story of sixteen year old Lady Jane Grey‘s 8 months in the Tower of London following the death of Edward VI and the accession of Queen Mary I. For 9 long summer days in between these two Tudor monarchs, Lady Jane Grey was Engand’s first Queen, Queen Jane.
We’re shown the story through the eyes of Elizabeth Tilney, Lady Jane’s newly appointed Catholic lady-in-waiting. Also sixteen.
Each in their own way were victims of powerful men: Lady Jane Grey’s 9 days as Queen Jane were engineered to allow her father-in-law and Edward VI’s Lord President of the Council, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, to continue in power; Elizabeth Tilney, unwittingly (and I’d say fictitiously) pregnant by her father’s best friend.
Publisher’s page: The Lady of Misrule – Suzannah Dunn
A speedy read – partly because it’s a relatively slight novel but mainly because it’s a good read. Suzannah Dunn presents Henry VIII’s fifth wife as a teenage airhead, obsessed with boys and sex, which I suspect is a pretty accurate portrayal of her character an appeal, although I’m not so convinced about the apparent absence of politicking in her transition from a lowly member of the Howard dynasty being brought up in the household of her step-grandmother – the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk – to Queen. But then again, the book is told from the perspective of her friend and confidante, Cat Tilney, rather than Henry VIII and his peers, and all the more accessible for that.
Author’s webpage: The Confessions of Katherine Howard – Suzannah Dunn
It took me a while to warm to the update from Tudor to twenty first century language, but with hindsight it provided a new route into a familiar story – the rise and fall of Anne Boylen – and the book it all the better for it.
Amazon.co.uk link: The Queen of Subtleties – Suzannah Dunn
The famous phantom pregnancy of Queen Mary I, as told by one of her husband’s Spanish entourage. An interesting approach, but the Spanish, Catholic double remove made it feel too remote from the main events, exacerbated by Rafael’s inability to understand the world in which he finds himself. In fact, it was hard to credit Rafael could get it quite so wrong….
Amazon.co.uk link: The Queen’s Sorrow – Suzannah Dunn