Tag Archives: Elizabeth Fremantle

The Poison Bed

22 Oct

In the 17th century, Sir Thomas Overbury dies in the Tower of London. Not an unusual occurence, you might think. This death was a little unusual in that two people were accused of his murder. Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset and his wife Lady Frances Howard, Countess of Somerset.

Robert Carr was a “favourite” of King James I. History has never been kind to that king and his predelictions towards good looking young men.

In “The Poison Bed” E. C. (Elizabeth) Fremantle makes an excellent attempt to explain what happened. The result is a book both chilling and thrilling. I found it very hard to put down.  The book is divided into alternating chapters of Robert’s point of view, and then Frances’.

The book is an interesting mix of historical fiction and psychological thriller. Brilliantly executed.

Highly recommended.

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Sisters of Treason

3 Oct

I will state right now that Philippa Gregory has SERIOUS competition.  Elizabeth Fremantle is by far the best historical fiction writer I have come across in years.

In “Sisters of Treason” Elizabeth Fremantle tells the story of Lady Jane Grey’s two younger sisters, Katherine and Mary.  Katherine, who was a serious contender as Elizabeth I’s heir, and Mary, who suffered the curse of the Plantagenet’s, scoliosis, are often ignored by historical fiction writers in favour of their cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots.

Interwoven with the story of the Grey sisters is that of artist Levina Teerlinc, a reknowned miniaturist whose work is held in the V&A, amongst other places.

Katherine and Mary are interestingly portrayed.  Katherine as a woman lead by her emotions, and Mary, as one lead by her intellect.  Indeed, from what we know of Mary, she was considered as precocious a scholar as her older sister Jane and her cousin Elizabeth.

Both women lived their lives in the shadow of both their father and sister’s treason, and the displeasure and distrust of their cousin Elizabeth.
Beautifully written and enthralling, Elizabeth Fremantle is a writer to watch.  I’ve read two of her books, and am keen to get my hands on her other two (all she has written – so far).

Highly recommended to all lovers of historical fiction.

Queen’s Gambit

18 Sep

Historical fiction set in the Tudor period is pretty much the main stay of historical fiction, so it takes something pretty special to catch my eye.

“Queen’s Gambit” by Elizabeth Fremantle is special.  A look at Henry VIII’s final queen, Catherine Parr.

It’s a very different look at the woman who survived Henry’s machinations.

Different, but, given the times, not unbelievable.

Elizabeth Fremantle has created fairly strong characters.  Catherine Parr and Dr Robert Huicke stand out very strongly.  I think this is the first historical novel I’ve read where Huicke has been more than simply been a name mentioned in passing.

A lot of the story swings on the character of Dorothy Fownten (Dorothy Fountain) who did exist and was a waiting woman to Catherine since her days as Lady Latymer.

Many Tudor historicals are male focused, which is fair, because it was a male dominated time period, but “Queen’s Gambit” is a book about strong women.

Highly readable and highly recommended.

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