Monday, September 17, 2012
Book Review: The Queen's Secret by Victoria Lamb
They tell you that when you bring a child into your life that everything is going to change. I can attest to the fact that there have been big changes, the most obvious of which is that we now have a child in our lives. As far as other changes are concerned though, I have to admit that so far Mini-Mister has been added to our lives as opposed to having changed them. There are absolutely certain things that we can no longer do on a whim, the most obvious of which would be our trips to the cinemas, but we are tremendously lucky in that we have friends and family who encourage us to do just that, while they get their own 'baby fix'! There has been one other fairly large change for me in particular, as I am an avid reader and would generally fly through whatever book that I picked up. Now, once I've made it to bed and snuggle in to start reading, I usually get through about two or three pages before I fall asleep, book in hand. It would seem that I'm tired! I will admit though, that this seems to be getting better, so we'll see what the future holds. I'm telling you this because several months ago, I received 'The Queen's Secret' a historical fiction Tudor novel from the publisher that I was very excited to read. It has taken me this long to do that, but please believe me when I say that it is all baby and not at all novel related, because it was great!
I've never hid the fact that I love me some fluff. 'Chick lit' makes me weak in the knees, but I wanted to expand my horizons by reading other sorts of fiction. Truthfully, I see many similarities between this historical fiction and my usual girly fiction - just the era has changed! Because I have never read any historical fiction before, I didn't know that 'author's notes' were commonplace. I have to admit, this addition to the end of the book, really sealed the deal for me. Reminds me of when I am visiting a historical place, and how I want nothing more to feel what it was like during that time... this story, coupled with the author's notes, brought me there and of that, I'm a big fan!
Let me tell you a little about it-
'To unlearn honesty was the hardest thing in the world' - Lucy Morgan
The story is of Elizabeth I in the summer of 1575 and her visit to Kenilworth Castle, the home of the Earl of Leicester. The Earl, Robert Dudley, known to the Queen as her 'Robin', is held dear by Elizabeth. Dudley's goal in hosting the court this partcular summer is to convince her to accept his marriage proposals. However, she simply will not give into him, however disappointing to the both of them.
Enter the pious Lucy Morgan, a moorish court entertainer, who catches the eye of both the Earl and the Queen. She sings like a bird and is as pure and innocent as they come. Both of the novel's powerful figures take to her and recruit her to basically act as a 'spy' of each other. Robert simply wants to win the Queen's hand so he can finally gain his throne. The Queen on the other hand, though she loves 'Robin' dearly, wants Lucy to report back on his 'dealings' (and by dealings I mean, rolls in the hay - sometimes quite literally) with Lettice Knollys, the Queen's younger, prettier, and married Cousin. This is quite the triangle, as you can undoubtedly imagine.
During the Queen's stay at Kenilworth, she is hosted by the Earl to the point of his near bankruptcy. Lavish festivities and impressive banquets, are held to show her Highness his worth and promise as her potential husband. All in the name of impressing the Monarch!
Unfortunately for the court but fortunately for us readers, there is one more story line in this novel to keep us interested (not that we weren't)! Elizabeth I's life is in danger. There is a plot on her life but the source (or the plan, for that matter) is unknown. Lucy's former Master - Master Goodluck, acts as a spy for the Queen (unbeknownst to her) and spends almost the entire book, watching and waiting for this plan to materialize. We are entertained by this extra 'leg' of story through Goodluck and his team, in addition to Lucy's interactions with them. This becomes clearer'ish' at the conclusion of the book. We never do know everything!
Kenilworth was a busy place in July 1575, and after reading this book, I find myself completely enamoured with it! I'm really happen to have had the chance to add this to my bookshelf! (Which is BIG and new, I'll share as soon as the basement/family room, is complete)
The Queen's secret (paperback) will be available in Canada in March 2013, according to Chapters.Indigo and Amazon.ca. It seems that the hardback can be purchased now, not directly from Amazon but from third party sellers here. I encourage you to read this book through whatever means necessary, you will not be disappointed.
**Editor's note: I was sent this book for review, by Transworld Publishers (Random House Group), however all opinions are my own.**