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Queen Elizabeth’s Daughter by Anne Clinard Barnhill is Entertaining Tudor Novel

Queen Elizabeths DaughterI took a little road trip this weekend, and as I was the passenger I had the perk of getting a lot of reading done. A book I dove into on this trip, and a little late into the night at the hotel when I should have been resting, was Anne Clinard Barnhill’s Queen Elizabeth’s Daughter. It’s a novel of Queen Elizabeth I, but actually it’s mostly a novel of Mary Shelton, her lady-in-waiting, second cousin, and ward.

I immediately got lost in the easy ebb and flow of Anne’s words across the page and her story of Mary. Juxtaposed with a story line told from the Queen’s point of view, it gives us a look into the thoughts of the two women in relation to how Mary is treated and the goings on of the time period. Elizabeth took Mary on as her ward, as was the law, when her two parents died. However, Elizabeth doted on Mary, sometimes much to Mary’s chagrin as she barely was able to have any life of her own, let alone date or marry who she wanted.

Anne’s offers exquisite detail and always sets her scenes visually so that as you read it feels as if you were transported in time and are viewing the novel through the eyes of the protagonist, Mary. She had good and authentic character development as she takes on Mary’s need to please and respect Elizabeth amid her own desires to rebel and live an independent life and as well writes Elizabeth’s character in a way that shows her struggle between being kind and and loving, as a mother, and strong-willed with an iron fist. Elizabeth’s paranoia and desire to keep only those loyal around her is much understood due to her upbringing, yet we see in this novel how that impacts others.

Though there are a lot of Tudor era novels on the market, I particularly enjoy those that utilize sub-family members, friends, court, and staff in order to tell us more about how the Tudor rule impacted all the people around them. In that regard, this book on Mary was unique to me and I enjoyed reading of what her life might have been like. Full of emotion and with easy to read dialogue and plot, this book was entertaining and a breeze to finish.

Anyone who likes Tudor era books with light prose that isn’t heavy or dreary, this book is definitely for you. I bet it will be one of the best books of that sub-genre to publish this year. I know it will be one of my favorite Tudor-era historical novels for its excellent writing, flowing style, intricate and visual detail, and strong character development and emotional connections.

Queen Elizabeth’s Daughter, Synopsis~

Queen Elizabeths DaughterPublication Date: March 18, 2014
St. Martin’s Griffin
Paperback; 320p
ISBN-10: 0312662122

Mistress Mary Shelton is Queen Elizabeth’s favorite ward, enjoying every privilege the position affords. The queen loves Mary like a daughter, and, like any good mother, she wants her to make a powerful match. The most likely prospect: Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. But while Oxford seems to be everything the queen admires: clever, polished and wealthy, Mary knows him to be lecherous, cruel, and full of treachery. No matter how hard the queen tries to push her into his arms, Mary refuses.

Instead, Mary falls in love with a man who is completely unsuitable. Sir John Skydemore is a minor knight with little money, a widower with five children. Worst of all, he’s a Catholic at a time when Catholic plots against Elizabeth are rampant. The queen forbids Mary to wed the man she loves. When the young woman, who is the queen’s own flesh and blood, defies her, the couple finds their very lives in danger as Elizabeth’s wrath knows no bounds.

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Author Anne Clinard Barnhill, Biography~

Anne Clinard BarnhillAnne Clinard Barnhill has been writing or dreaming of writing for most of her life. For the past twenty years, she has published articles, book and theater reviews, poetry, and short stories. Her first book, AT HOME IN THE LAND OF OZ, recalls what it was like growing up with an autistic sister. Her work has won various awards and grants.

Barnhill holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Besides writing, Barnhill also enjoys teaching, conducting writing workshops, and facilitating seminars to enhance creativity.

She loves spending time with her three grown sons and their families. For fun, she and her husband of thirty years, Frank, take long walks and play bridge. In rare moments, they dance.

For more information, please visit Anne Clinard Barnhill’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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C.W. Gortner’s “The Tudor Secret” a Must Read for Intrigue Fans

The Tudor Secret, by C.W. Gortner, was an amazing cache of intrigue and suspicion!! It’s one of the BEST books I’ve read in a very long time. If you think the Tudor era is overdone and all has been said, THINK AGAIN! 

Though plenty of books about Elizabeth I or Henry the VIII line the shelves of many bookstores and libraries, Gortner’s work of historical fiction spins an original yarn about an orphan boy, Brendan Prescott, who has a birthmark which supports that he has possible royal lineage. Does he?  Is he being used as a pawn to the advancement of others?

Court life is brutal and Prescott is about to find that out when he becomes a servant in the Dudley household.  Before he knows it, he is a double spy and reeling with the fact that he is on a mission for Elizabeth I, the intelligent sister of the young Edward VI.  Strangled with the urge to know his own family secret, he agrees to being eyes and ears at court for William Cecil, Elizabeth’s protector, in exchange for Cecil helping him to unravel his past.

He discovers that whispers and secrets abound at court, during this turbulent time after Henry VIII’s death, and no one can be trusted. At times in the novel, Prescott  is uncertain who he is even spying for, yet his own heart is always true to Elizabeth I and her safety.

The Tudor Secret is so full of suspense that pages will turn like they are on FIRE. Your finger will refuse to let you stop turning pages. You won’t want to put this book down for fear you will miss something. When you do put it down, it will still have you wondering so much about its twists and turns that you’ll want to pick it back up again and read until you know the secret!

The book gives superb insight into the personalities of Elizabeth and Mary Tudor in their younger years surrounding the time of their brother, King Edward VI’s, death in 1553.  The inner-family struggle for the crown, the religious turmoil and fracturing, the struggle of the people of England, the love/hate relationship of Elizabeth and Robert Dudley (son to John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland) and the conniving ways of the court all lend to this tale as the author is a master at presenting us espionage and intrigue.

Gortner’s historical novel is the first book in his new Elizabeth I spymaster chronicles. The book ends with the secret known to only the Prescott character, and a few others, and is set-up for readers to be ready to delve into more spies, lies, and espionage in the next book as Prescott becomes a spy in Mary I’s court.

If a book doesn’t grab me in the first 10 pages, I won’t read it, but this one certainly DID have my full attention. I thoroughly enjoyed the guessing game this book laid out for me from the beginning. It made me remember how much I LOVE this era of English history.

This has been one of my favorite books of the last 10 years and I can’t wait for more to come in this series. Gortner has to be considered one of the TOP historical fiction novelists of the century.

Bio of C.W. Gortner, Author of The Tudor Secret~

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall and experienced life in a Spanish castle. His novels have garnered international praise and been translated into thirteen languages to date. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights and environmental issues.

He’s currently at work on his third novel, about Isabella of Castile, and the second novel in his Tudor series,The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles (US) or Elizabeth’s Spymaster (UK).

Half-Spanish by birth, C.W. lives in Northern California.  You can contact him at: cwgortner[at]earthlink.net and across many social networking channels.  For more information about this book and author, you can go to the author’s website at www.cwgortner.com.  Gortner enjoys talking to book groups and will even chat via speaker phone or Skype.

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