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Mistress of the Sea
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 October 2014
Unlike the last book I reviewed (The Miniaturist) this novel doesn't have literary pretensions, but it works much better - the characters are stronger and more convincing, the setting is brilliantly described, she's obviously done loads of in-depth research while resisting the temptation to put vast indigestible chunks of it into the mix, and it really rips along as you get caught up in the adventures of Will, Ellyn, Kit and of course Francis Drake, at the beginning of his career. You do have to suspend your disbelief at the central concept - and usually I'm deeply suspicious of the 'girl disguised as boy' scenario, it's such a romantic novel cliche - but Ellyn makes a likeable, strong and determined character and Will is rather more than just 'the love interest'. I see her next novel centres around Will's brother Kit, and I'm looking forward to reading it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 August 2013
Jenny Barden's brilliant debut novel is the type of story that first hooked me on historical fiction many years ago. Set against the exciting but politically dangerous period of the late 16th century we see the extraordinary courage of Drake and his men as they set out to conquer the New World. We also experience the wonder and adventure of those first trans-Atlantic expeditions through the eyes of the hero, Will, and the no-nonsense heroine Ellyn. Mistress of the Sea is beautifully written with a real period feel to the narrative and dialogue. I can't wait for Ms Barden's next novel The Lost Duchess
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 31 August 2012
Jenny Barden took ten years in the making of this book - from the first tentative steps, through re-writes of the re-write; from the self-doubt of ever making anything of her hard work, to the elation of finding an agent and a publisher - all culminating in a published, finished novel.... and what a novel it is!

Jenny's attention to detail is superb, her writing is skilled, and her sense of adventure is engrossing.

This is the Tudor period with a difference - the nitty-gritty of daily life, from the bear-pit to action at sea.

Set sail with Jenny, her characters, and Sir Francis Drake - and prepare to be transported into the sea-faring world of the past.

(Note I know Jenny personally through the Historical Novel Society and as a fellow author of nautical fiction: this review is my personal, genuine opinion.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2013
This gets 5* from me for the way the main character grows from a spoilt, petulant young woman into a plausible heroine, and for the thoroughness of the historical context. The scene-setting is also excellent; you can smell the tropics, taste the salt. It is unusual for putting a woman, and a commoner to boot, at the centre of the plot in a very masculine age. A good adventure yarn, well told.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
In #MistressoftheSea, Jenny Barden has created a highly readable, swashbuckling story of romance and adventure. One's senses are engaged in a visible, tangible, tastable, smellable melange of Elizabethan experience and adventure!

As designer of the author's website I must declare an interest, but I can in truth say that it has been a great pleasure to work with Jenny and a joy to read the book.

On the eve of formal publication, I recommend it wholeheartedly!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
OK, you're looking for something specific, you want high sea's action, a story of love and romance and mix it all up in Elizabethan England? Well that's where this cracking title from Jenny Barden comes to the fore in this debut a long time in the making and to be honest the time that has been taken to polish it really does go to show the depth of not only research but love of the craft has gone into this book.

The history is believable with an almost miasma of the stench of the time attached. Its cleverly sculpted, grasps the reader deep into bossom of the title and really does give the reader a magical read that not only will thrill and enthral but makes the reader want to keep on reading long into the night. A great read.
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