Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Friday, September 6, 2013

Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle

Recently, I had the pleasure of reading Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle--an up and coming Tudor historical fiction author. I absolutely loved the book. I have a fondness for Henry VIII and his wives, unbelievable drama come to life. I eagerly gobble up any Tudor book in my path, but it is a unique author that can bring the tension, fear and treachery to life in vibrant characters.

Ms. Fremantle took a unique perspective of Katherine Parr that I've not yet seen, beginning with the death of her second husband, John Neville, Baron Latimer--and the circumstances revolving around his ailment and death. It opened in Neville's point-of-view, followed by Katherine's.

After the death of her husband, she is summoned to court. Once there, Katherine is immersed in all the political, social, strategic unrest that consumes the Tudor court. She believes she is falling for Thomas Seymour, a rogue if there every was one, but Henry, noticing their affection, sends Thomas abroad so he can court Katherine himself. And, unfortunately, who can refuse the king?

Katherine grew up in court, and certainly knew her way around nobles, royals and how to navigate various factions. She did so in a way that was not only classy, but deceptively intuitive. She was able to play Henry like a cello--beautifully and magically. The author brought out Katherine's strengths, showing how she was able to overcome the domineering, volatile king. Literally, the only of his six wives to outlive him.

Having now been through three husbands not of her choosing, Katherine sets out once more to satisfy herself with romantic love--with the scoundrel Thomas Seymour. She knows it, but deep inside, she so longs for love she's willing to overlook his roguish ways. After all, he is exceedingly charming, and I think he really did love her.

Her end is sad, but at least we see that before she passed, she did find some measure of happiness and we are left satisfied that Ms. Fremantle did her justice in this well-researched, poignant novel.

Looking forward to more from this talented author!


Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Simon & Schuster
Hardcover; 432p
ISBN-10: 147670306X

Widowed for the second time at age thirty-one Katherine Parr falls deeply for the dashing courtier Thomas Seymour and hopes at last to marry for love. However, obliged to return to court, she attracts the attentions of the ailing, egotistical, and dangerously powerful Henry VIII, who dispatches his love rival, Seymour, to the Continent. No one is in a position to refuse a royal proposal so, haunted by the fates of his previous wives—two executions, two annulments, one death in childbirth—Katherine must wed Henry and become his sixth queen.

Katherine has to employ all her instincts to navigate the treachery of the court, drawing a tight circle of women around her, including her stepdaughter, Meg, traumatized by events from their past that are shrouded in secrecy, and their loyal servant Dot, who knows and sees more than she understands. With the Catholic faction on the rise once more, reformers being burned for heresy, and those close to the king vying for position, Katherine’s survival seems unlikely. Yet as she treads the razor’s edge of court intrigue, she never quite gives up on love.

View the Official Book Trailer: http://videos.simonandschuster.com/video/2472116122001

Praise for Queen’s Gambit

"This is a superbly written novel... Fremantle is surely a major new voice in historical fiction and this book is the answer to the question about what Hilary Mantel fans should read while waiting for the final part of her trilogy." - The Bookseller

“Wildly entertaining…lively, gamey, gripped with tension…one of the best historical novels I’ve read.” - Liz Smith

"Elizabeth Fremantle's rich narrative breathes vibrant life into Henry VIII's most intriguing, intelligent and least known wife, Katherine Parr." - Anne Easter Smith author of A Rose for the Crown and Royal Mistress

"Queen's Gambit is an earthy, vivid portrait of Tudor England seen through the eyes of Henry VIII's last wife Katherine Parr and her loyal maid servant. Elizabeth Fremantle has added a richly written and engrossing novel to the endlessly fascinating story of the Tudors." - Stephanie Cowell author of Claude and Camille: A Novel of Monet

"Queen's Gambit is a lovely, sensual, subtle read, telling the story of Katherine Parr with both rich imagination and scrupulous attention to factual detail. After reading this historical novel, you truly comprehend what it would mean to be the sixth wife of a dangerous man wielding absolute power. Katherine is no selfless nurse here, nor religious fanatic, but a complex and compelling person who both men and women were drawn to. This is a very impressive novel." - Nancy Bilyeau author of The Crown

"Beautifully written and finely observed, this suspenseful tale of Henry the Eighth's last wife expertly conveys all the dangerous intensity and passion of the Tudor court." - Rachel Hore, author of A Place of Secrets

"With a painter’s eye for detail, Fremantle brings the dazzling, dangerous Tudor court to life and sheds an intriguing new light on Katherine Parr, one of history’s great survivors. An enthralling tale of power and passion, loyalty and betrayal." - Elizabeth Wilhide, author of Ashenden

"Fremantle...navigates Tudor terrain with aplomb." - Publishers Weekly

"Sins, secrets and guilt dominate the landscape of British writer Fremantle’s debut...[her] emphasis is on intrigue, character portraits and the texture of mid-16th-century life. Solid and sympathetic." - Kirkus Reviews

“Intrigue, romance, and treachery abound in Fremantle’s debut novel . . . . This compulsively readable fictional biography of the ultimate survivor is infused with the type of meticulous attention to historical detailing that discerning fans of Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory have come to expect in the Tudor canon.” - Booklist

About the Author

Elizabeth Fremantle holds a first class degree in English and an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck College London. She has contributed as a fashion editor to various publications including Vogue, Elle and The Sunday Times. QUEEN'S GAMBIT is her debut novel and is the first in a Tudor trilogy. The second novel, SISTERS OF TREASON, will be released in 2014. She lives in London.

For more about Elizabeth and her future projects see www.elizabethfremantle.com.  You can also find her on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads.

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/queensgambittour

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