The Queen’s Exiles, by author Barbara Kyle and published by Kensington, is the sixth book in her Thornleigh Saga, which though can be read as stand-alone novels also follow the Thornleigh family through several Tudor monarchies in England. This novel, set in 1572, takes to the high seas and Kyle asks readers to put on their sea-faring legs.
For those readers and Tudor reading dissenters, let me quell your concerns about there being yet another Tudor era novel. There is enough intrigue and war and political concocting, let alone the world playing the game of Risk, that there are so many stories to tell. As with many of the new Tudor novels that are taking an outside approach to Tudor reign, and really telling new and exciting stories that abound from the surrounding areas of England during Tudor rule, Kyle brings to us the important, less told, and thrilling story of the Spanish empire, and the fate of the Netherlands, during the time of Elizabeth I.
Not only does Kyle’s book allude to us just how amazing Elizabeth I was for holding down England during a time when Spain pretty much ruled everyone and had all the riches to be found, she also told the story of Spanish control of the Netherlands, the resilient William of Orange who led the Dutch resistance, with support from Elizabeth, and the Sea Beggars, those Dutch who defied Spain on the seas and ended up part of a pawn in Elizabeth I plan to stay apart from Spain.
I was thrilled when I really learned that her book brought this to light, as some of my ancestors were Dutch. My Protestant forefather left his British roots in England for the Netherlands, to Haarlem and then Amsterdam, and married a Dutch woman having children, living there after the Netherlands declared their own independence from Spain in 1581 (being “official” after 1648 long after they accomplished so much on their own, like setting up the Dutch India Trading Co. in 1602, a fortification in 1620, and heading to the New World to create New Amsterdam, which was an official Dutch settlement by 1664, later becoming Manhattan. My ancestor, born to the English immigrant and the Dutch woman in 1610 in Amsterdam, was part of the handful of men sent to the New World accomplish this task of setting up New Amsterdam and created a life there, in Harlem, where he is buried today).
I digress, but I was excited as it’s rare to find a mainstream historical read that tells the story of the Dutch resistance and conflict with the Spanish. I applaud Kyle for her research and her passion for this cause and appreciate her historical research and fervor in bringing this part of the era to readers!
However, the book that Kyle writes was not only a history lesson about this part of the past, though the story surrounds it, but more about her ambitious and riveting female character, the Scottish-born Fenella Doorn, who again runs into Baron Adam Thornleigh (of whom she met in a previous book) while she’s living on the Isle of Sark and repairing ships. However, though a minor character before in the series, she all but takes the strong lead in The Queen’s Exiles. If you read the first chapter of Kyle’s book, you’ll see that Fenella’s character begins with a bang! She bold, ambitious, strong, and assertive! She is courageous, passionate, and loyal! Immediately, I know that Fenella is a woman who takes no flack from men like the arrogant and vile Spanish seamen. She demands respect and she gets it. Makes me jump with joy to see such a strong female character.
Kyle’s plot and the prose kicks into overdrive from the first chapter and never lets up. Kyle’s sea-faring descriptions, dialogue, and details made me feel as if I was riding on the waves myself. When Adam convinces Fenella to join his pursuit of his wife and children in Brussels, more unfolds in the plot, sending intrigue, turmoil, and adventure rippling throughout the book. I despised the Spanish Duke of Alba, who is in control of overseeing the Low Countries (which is the lower part of the Netherlands, then Belgium and Flanders). I appreciated the manner in which Kyle penned this conflicting side and showed us how the Spanish ruined the lives of these independent Dutch people for their trading, goods, and ports. He slaughtered so many Dutchman.
Though this alarming history was woven into her tale of adventure and action, her book was foremost about Fenella and Adam, creating a bond between them in which they leaned on each other for survival. It’s a well-rounded novel offering the best of most everything a reader would want out of a book!
Overall, Kyle creates her usual blend of historical authenticity with an imaginative story that propels the Thornleigh Saga on as a must-read series and brings to light some aspects of history not commonly told. If you’re looking for a good historical fiction read that takes you off dry land for the summer and to the adventurous high seas of history, head to the dock with The Queen’s Exiles!
Watch for a wonderful guest article here on my site from Barbara Kyle on Thursday, June 26, where she discusses Elizabeth I and the Sea Beggars!
The Queen’s Exiles, Synopsis~
Europe is in turmoil. A vengeful faction of exiled English Catholics is plotting to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and install her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots on the throne. And in the Netherlands the streets are red with the blood of those who dare to oppose the brutal Spanish occupation.
But amid the unrest, one resourceful young woman has made a lucrative enterprise. Scottish-born Fenella Doorn salvages crippled vessels. It is on one of these ships that she meets wealthy Baron Adam Thornleigh. Secretly drawn to him, Fenella can’t refuse when Adam enlists her to join him in war-torn Brussels to help find his traitorous wife, Frances—and the children she’s taken from him.
But Adam and Fenella will put their lives in peril as they attempt to rescue his young ones, defend the Crown, and restore a peace that few can remember. With eloquent and enthralling finesse, Barbara Kyle illuminates one of history’s grimmest chapters. The Queen’s Exiles breathes new life into an extraordinary age when love and freedom could only be won with unmitigated courage.
Praise for The Queen’s Exiles~
“Riveting Tudor drama in the bestselling vein of Philippa Gregory” – USA Today
“A bold and original take on the Tudors that dares to be different. Enjoy the adventure!” – Susanna Kearsley, New York Times bestselling author
“This moving adventure pulses with Shakespearean passions: love and heartbreak, risk and valour, and loyalties challenged in a savage time. Fenella Doorn, savvy and brave, is an unforgettable heroine.” – Antoni Cimolino, Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival
“Brilliant. A page-turner of love and loyalty in treacherous Tudor times. A truly unforgettable adventure.” – Deborah Swift, author of A Divided Inheritance
“A vivid and compelling novel by an author at the very top of her craft.” – Diane Haeger, author of I, Jane
Praise for Barbara Kyle’s Books
“Kyle knows what historical fiction readers crave.” – RT Book Reviews on Blood Between Queens
“A complex and fast-paced plot mixing history with vibrant characters” – Publishers Weekly on The King’s Daughter
“An all-action thriller, bringing to life the passion and perils of the Tudor period.” – Lancashire Evening Post on The King’s Daughter
“Riveting…adventurous…superb!” – The Historical Novels Review on The Queen’s Gamble
“An exciting tale of the intrigue and political manoeuvring in the Tudor court.” – Booklist on The Queen’s Captive
“Boldly strides into Philippa Gregory territory…sweeping, gritty and realistic.” – The Historical Novels Review on The Queen’s Lady
Buy the Book~
Author Barbara Kyle~
The Queen’s Exiles
Blood Between Queens
The Queen’s Gamble
The Queen’s Captive
The King’s Daughter
The Queen’s Lady
Barbara was a speaker in 2013 at the world-renowned Stratford Festival with her talk Elizabeth and Mary, Rival Queens and is known for her dynamic workshops for many writers’ organizations and conferences. Before becoming an author Barbara enjoyed a twenty-year acting career in television, film, and stage productions in Canada and the U.S.
Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/thequeensexilestour
Tour Hashtag: #QueensExilesTour