Showing posts with label 16th Century. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 16th Century. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Can't Wait Wednesday: The Passionate Tudor: A Novel of Queen Mary I by Alison Weir


For this week's Can't Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings, I'm featuring The Passionate Tudor by Alison Weir. It is her latest fictional take on another famous queen. She always has wonderful research and excellent narrative for these historical fiction books so this one is sure to be good. I know so much about Queen Mary I already so it's not on the top of my TBR pile yet. But I wanted to share it because others might be interested. 

Hope you have found something you can't wait for this week!

May 28, 2024

Historical Fiction

Description courtesy of Amazon

The New York Times bestselling author of the Six Tudor Queens series explores the dramatic and poignant life of King Henry VIII’s daughter—infamously known as Bloody Mary—who ruled England for five violent years.

Born from young King Henry’s first marriage, his elder daughter, Princess Mary, is raised to be queen once it becomes clear that her mother, Katherine of Aragon, will bear no more children. However, Henry’s passion for Anne Boleyn has a devastating influence on the young princess’s future when, determined to sire a male heir, he marries Anne, has his marriage to Katherine declared unlawful, brands Mary illegitimate, and banishes them both from the royal court. But when Anne too fails to produce a son, she is beheaded and Mary is allowed to return to court as the default heir. At age twenty, she waits in vain for her own marriage and children, but who will marry her, bastard that she is?

Yet Mary eventually triumphs and becomes queen, after first deposing a seventeen-year-old usurper, Lady Jane Grey, and ordering her beheading. Any hopes that Mary, as the first female queen regent of England, will show religious toleration are dashed when she embarks on a ruthless campaign to force Catholicism on the English by burning hundreds of Protestants at the stake. But while her brutality will forever earn her the name Bloody Mary, at heart she is an insecure and vulnerable woman, her character forged by the unhappiness of her early years.

In Alison Weir’s masterful novel, the drama of Mary I’s life and five-year reign—from her abusive childhood,marriage,andmysterious pregnancies to the cruelty that marks her legacy—comes to vivid life.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Can't Wait Wednesday: The Schoolmaster by Jessica Tvordi


For this week's Can't Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings, I'm featuring The Schoolmaster by Jessica Tvordi. It tells the story of a young King James VI, son of Mary Queen of Scots and his tutor. It follows James as he grows into a man and the loves of his life.  A unique take on the subject to be sure. 

Hope you have found something you can't wait for this week!

June 1, 2024

Historical Fiction

Description courtesy of Net Galley

Scotland, 1570. Catholic followers of the exiled Mary, Queen of Scots wage war against those of her four-year-old son, King James VI. Enter Master Peter Young, a Geneva-educated merchant’s son. Eager to make his way in the world, Peter is appointed to serve as the king’s tutor alongside the formidable George Buchanan. Their objective? To shape Scotland’s young monarch into a perfect, Protestant ruler—a difficult task in a world filled with religious violence, power-hungry lords, and the petty squabbles of both boys and men.

Over the years, Peter sees success with his pupils, proves an invaluable friend to the king’s caretaker, the Countess of Mar, and her troubled son, Johnny Erskine, and gains status at court. But when the king’s French-raised cousin Esmé Stewart, Seigneur d’Aubigny, arrives in Scotland, Peter and his friends must discover whether this seductive stranger is an agent of Catholic Rome or another greedy relation hoping for preferment.

The Schoolmaster is a coming-of-age story, as King James rejects lessons of the schoolroom for love, and Peter navigates treacherous political waters to ensure the nation's security. Through Peter's eyes, readers are transported to a pivotal moment in Scottish history: the arrival of the first of King James’s many controversial lover-favorites. 

Saturday, January 20, 2024

The King's Commoner: The rise and fall of Cardinal Wolsey by David Field (The Tudor Saga Series Book Two)


Publication Date: 
July 24, 2019

271 pages

This is the second book in Field's Tudor series and although I have purchased the first one about Henry VII, I wanted to read this one first because I didn't know a lot about the story of Thomas Wolsey. 

The story begins when Thomas is very young and becoming painfully aware of his place in society. Born in 1473, he is the son of a common butcher of modest means, ridiculed by the upper classes who attend mass with him and are jealous of his cleverness and academic wit. This becomes more apparent as Wolsey grows into manhood, completing his degree in divinity at the young age of fifteen and uses his skills and connections to work his way to becoming chaplain for the Archbishop of Canterbury. He soon finds himself in the service of King Henry VII who appoints him royal chaplain. When his son, Henry VIII becomes king, Wolsey is firmly entrenched as a valuable asset to the Tudor ruler and uses it to his great advantage, steering events in his favor while maintaining the needed reverence due to the King. 

Because Henry VIII is still young and impressionable, he finds himself relying heavily on Wolsey's guidance and affirmation. In the beginning, Thomas is able to amass great wealth and power by making himself invaluable to the King. As time passes though, he finds Henry is growing into his own as a man and ruler and it starts to become more difficult to manipulate things in his direction. Henry grows increasingly more set in his ways and through a series of events with France and Spain, he and Wolsey begin to have conflicts that bleed into their previously trusting relationship. When the King decides to rid himself of Queen Katherine and marry Anne Boleyn, Thomas is expected to deliver the annulment necessary to make this happen. He cannot. And he finds himself in real danger from Henry's wrath. 

My Thoughts: 

I love that Field's books include real people presented in an authentic way so that I feel like I'm getting to know them and their thoughts, not just reading historical events. In this book though it caused me to be conflicted about the main focus because halfway through I really started to dislike Wolsey both as a man and as a religious figure. This is probably exactly what was intended and shows Field's capability as a writer. Unlike Simon de Montfort in The Conscience of a King, Wolsey does not come off as a sympathetic figure at all. We see him begin with promise, incredibly smart, talented, and impressive at a young age.  As he grows more entrenched in royal favor and wealth he comes across as scheming and cynical. It makes it hard to feel badly for him when Henry turns on him.

I can't recommend these books enough if you need a good, solid, chronological timeline of English history. I can't wait to see what the future holds for Field's books as I'm really hoping for a series of books that take place surrounding events from de Montfort through the Tudor years. The three Edwards and Bolingbroke would be wonderful as they seem to be under represented in the historical fiction world. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series, Justice For the Cardinal, all about Thomas Cromwell and his devotion to Wolsey, his mentor, and the events after this book and Wolsey's downfall.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Can't Wait Wednesday: The Castle Abductions by David Field (The Bailiff Mountsorrel Tudor Mysteries Book One)

For this week's Can't Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings, I'm featuring The Castle Abductions by David Field. I have really enjoyed what I've seen and read by this author. He is a retired lawyer who began writing years ago but didn't publish anything until after his career when he was older. I really admire that and he has written some great books about the early Norman period and the Tudor period as well as maritime books set in the 1500's. Now he is debuting a series of historical mysteries set in Elizabethan England and beyond. I am excited to promote the first book in the series which is out this Friday. Looking forward to seeing his spin on history and mysteries!

December 1, 2023

Historical Mysteries 

Historical Thrillers

Nottinghamshire’s bailiffs are on the trail of a sinister kidnapper…

Nottingham, England, 1590

County Bailiff Edward Mountsorrel and Town Bailiff Francis Barton have vowed to root out the criminals of Nottinghamshire and bring them to justice.

But after acting on information from a questionable source, Edward is tricked into allowing several deer to be stolen from a local estate. Furious, he sets about tracking them down.

Meanwhile, Francis is asked to investigate the disappearance of Nell, a young woman who was last seen at a local alehouse with a wealthy stranger.

When the bailiffs’ shared house is burned down and their servant is found stabbed to death, Edward and Francis begin to suspect that their cases are linked.

And when more young women go missing, the two bailiffs worry they are running out of time to retrieve them from danger…

Who wishes to silence to Edward and Francis? What happened to the missing women?

And can the two bailiffs find them before it’s too late…?

The Castle Abductions 
is the first historical thriller in the Bailiff Mountsorrel Tudor Mystery Series – private investigation crime novels set during the reign of Elizabeth I and beyond.


Tuesday, September 26, 2023

For a Queen's Love: The Story of the Royal Wives of Phillip II (Book 10 of the Tudor Novels) by Jean Plaidy


Publication Date: January 1, 1954

Length: 338 pages

The original title of this book is The Spanish Bridegroom and as Plaidy's books have been republished, some are being renamed. Her popularity has grown in the last two decades as people have rediscovered these classics. I have been wanting to read this book for a long time as it concerns a person I know almost nothing about. Thanks to the author I have learned some very interesting facts about Phillip of Spain. I am honestly surprised this was renamed the way it was because the queens take a backseat to Phillip in this tale. The original title was much more applicable to the content. His story is absolutely fascinating too. 

The book is divided into three sections: Maria of Manoela, Mary Tudor, and Elisabeth De Valois. I was curious as to why Plaidy didn't include Phillip's last wife, Anna of Austria with whom he spent the most years with. I would have liked for the story to have continued to the end of Phillip's life but I guess she decided three case studies were all she wanted to focus on. 

The story begins with Phillip's childhood and his living in the shadow of his powerful father, Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor.  Being a more serious, religiously bent person, Phillip struggles to connect with people in a warm way, and finds it hard to tolerate fun and frivolity. He is influenced at a young age by romantic notions of love when his cousin, Maria of Portugal is sent to him as a young bride and his infatuation of her causes him to lose his carefully guarded feelings. Maria, young and naive as well, is adrift in a strange land and although appreciates her new husband's attentions, finds Phillip to be hesitant about showing too much affection. Maria gives birth to their son, Don Carlos, who proves to be a disaster from start to finish. Without giving too much of the main story away, Carlos factors into the book throughout all the way to the end and his life is as wild and interesting as any of the other people mentioned. He could have had his own tale all by himself.

After the death of Maria, Phillip marries Mary Tudor of England with the hope of solidifying relations between Spain and England, thwarting France, and strengthening the hold of Catholicism in Europe. Mary is quite a bit older than Phillip and along with still mourning the young, beautiful Maria, Phillip is repulsed by both Mary's looks and desperate, clinging behavior. He spends much of the time doing his duty of trying to beget a spare heir to hopefully replace his unstable son Carlos while finding a way to quickly get away from Mary and his miserable life with her in England. When Mary passes after many failed attempts at producing a child, Phillip is relieved and finds himself free from a drab life, ready to find another queen to marry.

When Phillip marries his third queen, Elisabeth De Valois he is a seasoned King, older and less naive in his views of the world and of women but nevertheless is enchanted by his French bride. She is only 14 when they wed in contrast to Phillip's 32 years but her beauty and kindness resonate with the entire household and as she was originally promised to Phillip's son, Carlos, her subsequent betrothal to the King causes great tension between Father and Son that never fully resolves itself. Once again, Phillip hopes this younger wife will produce a son, an heir to replace his first one. Elisabeth, daughter of Henry II and the infamous Catherine de Medici, finds herself at first fearful of her Mother's disapproval, even though she is far away in France but as she becomes more comfortable in her role as Queen of Spain, begins to mature and rely more on Phillip's growing attachment and the positive confidence he instills in her. Just when she starts to imagine a contented life with her husband, Elisabeth learns how cold he can be as she watches in horror the ruthlessness of the Spanish Inquisition and Phillip's radical nature emerges. He turns into a frightening figure who is a religious zealot, showing no mercy to the poor people, imprisoned, tortured, and killed for their beliefs. 

This was a dark book, especially for Plaidy. She says in the introduction that she tried to write it from Phillip's perspective and to see him in a more human light than he is sometimes given credit for. His enforcement during the Inquisition period forever brands him as a merciless religious tyrant and while there is no getting around this fact, it is interesting to see how the author manages to explain why he is so dedicated to the Catholic cause during this time period. Phillip truly believes he is doing God's will, saving the people from further, eternal tortures and also saving his own soul in the process. There are many moments in the book that invoke sympathy and understanding towards his way of thinking and she does a good job of showing his desire to forgive his son again and again for his mentally unstable behavior. In the end though, Phillip morphs into a hardened man whose first loyalty is to God and securing his place on the throne at all costs. 

Plaidy spends quite a bit of time with dialogue between the main characters and inner monologue to convey their thoughts. I always enjoy stories better when authors narrate more but here the style worked in that I got a good sense of what Phillip and his wives were thinking about the other. This was one of my favorite of her books, probably because I learned so much about a new area of history and about a man I only knew previously as the husband of Mary Tudor. I am now wanting to read her books on Catherine de Medici, the mother of Elisabeth De Valois.