Zenobia – Nancy – Wix is the daughter of theatre impresario Devil and former artists model Eliza.
Born in the early 20th Century, Nancy and her brothers live through the First World War and its emotional aftermath. It’s the Roaring Twenties and the era of women’s emancipation too.
A near-death experience confirms teenage Nancy’s awareness that she senses and sees things that other people don’t, and in the grief and soul searching that follow the Great War, and after the Great Depression strikes the Wix family finances hard, she takes to the stage as a Spiritualist.
This novel has been on my watch list for a while, so I made the most of spotting the beautifully produced hard back in Barbican Library. The Night Circus is always out on loan, even though it was published 7 years ago.
A mysterious circus that opens only at night, offering customers exotic experiences featuring acrobats and contortionists, ice sculptures and performing animals, magicians and merry-go-rounds.
So far, so relatively normal.
However the origins and operation of the Night Circus are far from normal, and that’s what made this a speedy read at Walton on the Naze.
Tricky to categorise too – sort of fantastic (rather than fantasy) historical fiction.
Although I’m familiar with the Tudors, having studied them for A-level and at the start of my degree, Lady Jane Grey, Queen for 9 days in between the death of (Protestant) Edward VI and (Catholic) Mary I, didn’t feature much; but I didn’t even know that she had two younger sisters – Katherine and Mary.
Philippa Gregory’s last Tudor novel tells their fascinating stories, Mary Grey’s particularly so.
With Edward VI’s death, the Tudor line could only continue with a female. The royal status of his half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, had been thrown into doubt by his father, Henry VIII. The Grey girls’ claim to the throne through their mother, the daughter of Henry VII youngest daughter, Mary, with Mary, Queen of Scots’, claim coming through Henry VII’s eldest daughter, Margaret. Throw religion into the mix, and a bunch of powerful-but-not-royal nobles, and you’ve potential for plots galore.
I devoured any and all of Anya Seton’s novels that I could lay my hands on in my later teenage years.
Returning to Katherine, her telling of the story of Katherine de Roet, later Lady Swynford, and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, I found it less enthralling and more of a Mills & Boon mediaeval romance; a lengthier version of an Elizabeth Chadwick historical novel, with a slightly later, 14th century Plantagenets, setting.