A fast read, this book is mostly fiction with a little bit of history mixed in. I read it in the span of a weekend and found myself sucked in, feeling as though I was a part of the story. I could see the gowns and all the splendor of court life, yet feel the disappointment that accompanies it all at the same time.
In this novel, a knights daughter Margret is to wed the Earl of Lytham. The story starts just before their first meeting and goes through the ups and downs of their marriage. Margret is very beautiful and this troubles Lytham greatly – we learn over time that his previous (annulled) marriage was to a beautiful woman who betrayed him and he no longer trusts women who possess beauty. Over time, however, Margret is able to convince him through her loyalties that she is emphatically not his previous wife and does in fact possess a constant heart as he desires.
This is the sort of book that makes me question our general fascination and love affair with Tudor England. We don’t often get a glimpse into what life was like for people not in the favor of Elizabeth I, and it can be heartbreaking to see what goes into those lives. I think with the current Tudor craze, we’ve all fictionalized that time period to an extent and are loathe to let in the realization that both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I were a bit on the crazy side and really required a lot of their people.
I really felt badly for Margret through much of this book. Her realization that she was misled through much of her life at court is very difficult to see because really, you want to see the heroine of the book succeed and not fall prey to schemes.
It’s also interesting to see the effect of the white paint the women used during this time to make themselves as pale as possible. It amazes me to see the affect the queen could have on fashion, that everyone was willing to fore go their health and happiness to simply be accepted. Things like this make me feel so much for the women of history, to see the sacrifices they were all forced to make for their husbands, fathers, etc. It’s hard to believe that they were simply pawns in a big game.
I did find myself, at the end, questioning Margret’s sense for a bit, and also wondering “what happens next” for her and Lytham. I’d be interested to see a sequel to see how things go for them. Even though they are completely fictional characters, I can still get caught up in their lives and wonder how things turn out.