Monday, 2 May 2011
So sorry it has taken me this long to get this review done. I started it ages ago and just couldn't get it finished before the end of April. Now I'll actually be able to write April's reviews although being a month behind sucks big-time. Ah well at least I'm not gonna run out of books to review any time soon :P
Author: Marie-Louise Jensen
Date: 25/3/2011 AM
Description: "Spring 1540 I am afraid. You are in grave danger. Mother, will you run away with me if I can free you?" The servants call it the Lady Tower: the isolated part of the castle where Eleanor's mother is imprisoned after a terrible accusation. For four years Eleanor's only comfort has been their secret notes to one another. A chance discovery reveals a plot to murder her mother. Now Eleanor must free her before it is too late. But with danger and betrayal at every turn, she can trust no one. Especially not her father. Eleanor must use all her cunning to survive. For she soon realises that it is not just her mother she needs to save ...but also herself. (Description taken from Goodreads)
I hadn't heard anything about this book when I picked it out of a massive bag of books that my friend Jess was culling from her library but since I feel that one can never have too many historical fiction books I decided to keep it and one lazy morning last month I devoured the whole thing in one sitting.
It's been a while since I read a historical fiction book set during the Tudor period, I had a Phillipa Gregory phase which fizzled out when I heard that her books were rather more frivolous with factual inaccuracies than other books, not to mention the diabolically bad film adaptation of the Other Boleyn Girl being terribly off-putting of the genre. This book was rather refreshing in that it doesn't focus on King Henry and his shenanigans although he does feature in the story.
Eleanor Hungerford is a young noble whose family lives away from Court, she lives to ride her horse and practice jousting although she'll never be able to actually compete in a tourny. Her father is a rather cold, ruthless man who had his wife locked away for witchcraft just so he could bring in a new woman to take her place, although his plan to have his wife poisoned failed so he can't yet remarry.
I really quite liked Eleanor although she was somewhat naive and overly trusting of her father's new woman which caused a heck of a lot of trouble for her and her mother who she was trying to rescue from her Tower prison. But her determination to free her mother even if it put herself in danger was really admirable and brave especially for a young girl surrounded by men who will not care who they remove to achieve their goals.
I also really liked Stanton who was the young Lord who was arranged to be married to Eleanor. For a large portion of the book she disliked him immensely as she didn't know who to trust with all of her father's plotting and scheming. I thought she was rather hard on him considering all he did for her and he was so sweet sometimes! I'm glad Eleanor came to her senses eventually :P
The story itself was really interesting as it's based off of true events (although I can't say as to which parts are historical or fictional). I really loved all the jousting mentioned as I'm wierdly nerdy and love all the knightly stuff - Eleanor's own tilting escapades were really enjoyable to read about and I got such a fab Shero vibe as it reminded me of Kel from Protector of the Small who spent loads of time working on her tilting.
One thing that amused me was when the story moved to Bath, I won't say exactly how we end up there as it's spoilerish but I will say that I got a distinct Jane Austen vibe a la Persuasion during that part of the book. I know this is set during the Tudors and not the 19th Century Regency but it really felt like an Austen book with the romance storylines taking centre stage in Bath of all places. If anyone else who has read this book got this vibe please tell me so I don't feel quite so nutty.
Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable read which has put me back into a historical fiction mood as I really want to get stuck into the mounds of Elizabeth Chadwick books I have hoarded away. The characters were all really interesting and the book flowed nicely. The mix of political intrigue and romance was balanced really well and it was generally an all-around good book.
My Rating: 4 out 5 Stars
At last I have done all the reviews I wanted to write for my March books, if anyone wants to know my thoughts on a book that I haven't reviewed then do take a look at the 2011 Reading List and leave me a comment about it.