Published by: Bloomsbury Children’s
ISBN 13: 9781408869437
Published: April 2016
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Related Reviews: My Name is Victoria by Lucy Worsley
I know of Lucy Worsley from the BBC documentaries. Her speech is lovely, and I especially love the work she does with Mark Hill – they’re like a zany version of the Lutece from BioShock in a way.
But onto the book. Set in Tudor court (Henry VIII’s time), we meet Eliza Rose (fictional, not from history) when she is quite young. Quite spoiled and selfish, she thinks mostly of herself as she’s part of a noble family, so has always had an easy life and never had to lift a finger for it. However, her family aren’t as rich as they once were and this becomes more apparent as she gets older and travels a little, and sees what others call home.
Although she is always told that her duty in life is to marry well and save the family estate, when it actually happens it’s a bit of a surprise to her, especially that her father has managed one that would certainly elevate her status, and restore wealth to her family. It doesn’t entirely go to plan (and poor Eliza is still quite young at this stage, twelve or under I think?), and only seems to make her more demanding. In the end she’s sent away to a distant part of her family, to an elderly relative who spends her time and money on housing her young relatives and instructing them on the arts that are required by women of status.
Here is where the novel takes off, and it becomes impossible to put down (not that the first part wasn’t gripping, just that from here on in I stayed up far too late to finish it!) We meet other characters from history and see Worsley’s interpretation of them, showing a great deal of love and care for these characters despite how history tends to portray them. We see how court works and what was expected of those within it, despite their age or the double-expectations nature of it.
The characters are painted quite carefully, so you see how they are coming across to others but also what drives them, and how in some cases they’ve been backed into a corner, and are only doing what they can to try to stay alive – treason is of course on the cards, however what other choice did they have, in some cases?
All up I really quite enjoyed this quick and lovely read. It’s quite delicate with as happy ending as can be achieved in such a time, and the pages just fly by. I really hope Worsley chooses to write more historical fiction very soon as no matter what age they’re aimed at, they’re very, very readable.