I have to say that, of all the Philippa Gregory books I have read, this one is my favourite. Set in Tudor times, but instead of focussing on the kings and queens, tells the story of a young Jewish girl, Hannah, who has recently escaped the Spanish Inquisition with her printer father. Living as protestants they set up a printing and book shop in London which, in itself a dangerous endeavour, as in that unstable period in history many books are deemed to be heretical. A visit to the shop by the powerful Sir Robert Dudley, during which Hannah has a vision of an angel, changes her life forever when Dudley begs her for a fool to the king. The reigning monarch is the sickly son of the recently deceased King Henry VIII, and his time on the throne is inevitably short lived. Upon his death, Hannah is passed to Queen Mary and the much more impressive Princess Elizabeth. She then spends her time between these two powerful women but, also answering to her Lord Dudley with whom she falls in love. Hannah is tasked with spying on each of her providers in turn by the other two and has a hard job managing to survive as well as trying to avoid becoming ensnared by men involved in experiments in alchemy as well as plots against those in power. Among her other difficulties she has to deal with those she serves setting great store on Hannah being able to use her gift of the ‘sight’ in their battle for power. She also has a commitment to a young man her father has chosen for her to marry which brings more ups and downs in her life as he tries to persuade her to leave court so they can be married. During all of her time, in and out of court life, Hannah is haunted by the cruel execution of her mother making her greatest fear to be that of her origins and inherited faith being discovered. I found this book really enthralling – it brought me to tears, trepidation, laughter and every emotion in between during the many turns in the tale of Hannah’s life. If you have never read any of this author’s books try this one as I’m sure many other readers will enjoy it as much as I did!
Published by youngmo01
When I retired from my job as a fraud investigator I decided to live in a place I had always loved which had connections to my ancestors, who came from the Isle of Barra, so I went to live in a remote part of the Isle of Skye. However, after ten years I started to realise - mostly due to the friends who nagged me - that my house near Duntulm a mile from the main road was perhaps a little too out of the way for someone of my advancing years living alone. Apart from my wonderful German Shepherd dog - Eilidh. So I decided to make a move to the big city of Balmacara which is wonderful apart from the traffic! I had always loved writing but the event that really got me started was when I began to research my Mother's family tree. She was a Foundling brought up by The Thomas Coram Association in London and given a name out of the phonebook. Eventually she was allowed to know her real name but, sadly before she died there wasn't the information on the net as there is now and I only managed to find she had two uncles. When I really got into genealogy some years later I found out a lot more and her tree included a few interesting characters that I wanted to write about. I am still working on this as well as a crime novel but I have found that my real forte is short story writing along with the occasional poem. I attend as many literary events as my limited budget will allow and recently attended Aye Write in Glasgow. I had a great time there as I review books for the Bloody Scotland event so was ushered in to a few talks free of charge. The highlight for me was being able to see The fun Lovin' Crime Writers as I hadn't managed to see them at the Edinburgh Bookfest last year. I love a writer's workshop and have been to ones with Shona Maclean, niece of the great Alistair, Janice Galloway and a few others. I am lucky in that The Reading Room Skye run these fairly often as well as talks by well known authors. I also went to Ian Rankin's Thriller weekend in Cromarty, just for a couple of events, and ended up having lunch with the man himself! I also run a small line dance class for my local community trust but that's another story! I run a small writing group with a few of my friends where we meet at each others houses about once a month. Whoever hosts the meeting decides on a theme for a short story to be written by all the attendees which has to be read out to everyone there. The stories I write are put on my blog. This year I have joined The Highland Literary Salon which meets in Inverness on the third Tuesday of every month so hope to be able to get over there quite often. Much easier from Balmacara than the northern tip of Skye and you can include shopping as well as a walk on the wonderful open space of the Culloden Battlefield! View all posts by youngmo01