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Sunday, September 15, 2013

"Queen's Gambit" by Elizabeth Fremantle ~ Review


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.


Published by:  Simon and Schuster
Pages:  432
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Author:  Elizabeth Fremantle
Website:  http://www.elizabethfremantle.com
You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads

Purchase this book:  Barnes & Noble


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.

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

Video presentation:


"Queen's Gambit" is a historical novel in the vein of writers such as Philippa Gregory and C. W. Gorton.  It's a beautifully researched book, well-written and engaging representation of Katherine Parr, the final wife of Henry VIII.  What it's not is fluff.  Ms Fremantle takes us on a journey through the court of Tudor times and gently leads us through its intriguing manners.  I thoroughly enjoyed the read!

While much time was not spent on the actual relationship between Henry and Katherine, Ms Fremantle does describe how the wooing of Katherine took place and how bits of their relationship progressed.  I wished for more fictitious parts in this area, I have to admit.  She adheres to what we know are the parts of history best known about this venerable couple.  Still, the sections were interesting and attention-grabbing. 

It's difficult not to fall in love with the Katherine Parr as described in these pages.  She is a modern woman in any time or era.  Strong in her pursuits of knowledge and women's freedoms, strong in her
fearlessness and actions as queen, Freemantle paints a beautiful portrait of her.

The story that strings Parr's along and is most entertaining of the novel to me is that of her maidservant, Dot/Dorothy Fownten.  It's a sweet story capturing the underpinnings of court life and the devotion of its "downstairs" people.  Through the life and eyes of Dot, we see the hardships of Katherine in her personal struggles as Queen and her difficulties in working toward religious reformation.

This is a beautifully written book, enticing in it's flow of plot, educational in it's adherence to historical happenings.  I had a wonderful time reading it and especially loved Elizabeth Fremantle's writing style.

Easily recommended to fans of historical fiction!    5 stars



This review was brought to you in cooperation with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.  The review is my own personal opinion, however, and has no bearing on the fact that I'm part of the tour.

Please find more information on the book and see more reviews, interviews and author spotlights by clicking on this link:  http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/queensgambittour/


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