There is something wonderfully addictive about Elizabeth Fremantle’s historical novels. Maybe it’s just me because I love history (especially the time period she writes about) but when I start one of her novels, I cannot put it down until I’m finished!
I was first hooked on her writing by Queen’s Gambit and then was equally charmed by Sisters of Treason. Her latest novel set during the turbulent times of the Tudors, stars Penelope Devereux as the lead character.
Not only a beauty, Penelope is also a cunning and clever woman who will use all her wiles to secure the legacy of her family, even if it means betraying the Queen herself. Political manipulation and scandals at court are all part of the game as the future throne of England is played for.
Penelope is a character of two halves. There is the one half that plots tirelessly to elevate her family as well as holding them together as she is the internal strength of the Essex household. The other half is one full of love and passion. She was denied her first love and so she makes sure she follows her heart fully in the objects of her desire, no matter what the cost to her reputation.
I really admired Penelope. She was clever and passionate; the sort of female lead you want to support and read about. I kind of liked the fact that because she was a) beautiful and b) a woman meaning she was automatically underestimated, but was actually the ones pulling the strings of the future of England. I suppose her underestimation worked to her advantage in most things, although the slimy Robert Cecil is almost obsessed with her, and trying to second guess her actions at every turn.
Another aspect that makes these novels so additive is the setting of court. I’ve read several novels set in one royal court or another and it is literally a breeding ground for secrets, scandal and manipulation of all kinds. I really don’t think I could ever operate in such an environment, which adds to my esteem of Penelope all the more.
I really enjoy Ms Fremantle’s writing style which is elegantly written yet easy to read, atmospheric and exciting in all the right places and steeped in rich historical detail. I don’t think I can say much more about this book without sounding too fangirlish but needless to say, it was a really good read. If you are interested in the Tudors or historical fiction in general, then Elizabeth Fremantle is an author you need in your life.