Friday, October 18, 2013

Book Review Friday: Queen's Gambit


King Henry VIII to six spouses was wedded
One died, one survived, two divorced, two beheaded

Queen's Gambit is Elizabeth Fremantle's debut novel. For a first book she definitely hit this one out of the park.  Queen's Gambit is a lush and lavish look  at the Tudor Court of King Henry VIII and his 6th, and surviving, wife, Katherine Parr.
The story opens with the recently widowed Katherine (Kit to her friends) returning to court at the summons of Henry's oldest daughter, Lady Mary.  But the request is just a subterfuge, it is Henry who is casting his eyes her way.  Having recently disposed of wife number 5, Henry is in need of a replacement.  And intelligent, strong-willed Katherine, who just nursed an older, ailing husband through his last illness might be just what the old and ailing king wants. Katherine finds herself plunged into the danger and intrigue of court as highborn ladies, lords, and underlings all jockey for position and power and men make the final decisions.
Thrown into the mix is Katherine's powerful attraction to the handsome, ambitious Thomas Seymour.  Rumor has it that he may be married off to Katherine's stepdaughter, Meg.  But Seymour has other ideas and bigger ambitions. 
The story is told through the eyes of Katherine, her servant Dot, and her personal physician Huicke.  The varying viewpoints let the reader see the sumptuous Tudor Court from all angles above and below stairs.  The period details are fascinating.  Although, from several Tudor purists I have discovered that Fremantle has taken some literary license with Katherine Parr's actual history.  Still, she doesn't stray far from the facts and the personalities she develops for each of the major players bring the story to life. 

For more palace intrigue try these authors:

Philippa Gregory
Hilary Mantel
Alison Weir

And for some more Tudor book reviews check out this list from The Tudor Enthusiast

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