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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Historical Fiction.., 12 Aug. 2013
By 
jaffareadstoo (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Venus in Winter: A Novel of Bess of Hardwick (Paperback)
Venus in Winter charts the first forty years in the life of Bess of Hardwick, from her early life as a gentlewoman in the service of Lady Zouche, through to her subsequent marriages, and life at the centre of the Tudor court. As one of the most successful women of the Tudor age, there is no doubt that Bess always had her eye on the main chance, and in using her unique appeal, she succeeded in securing an advantageous place in society. Her many marriages, she had four, took her to the very pinnacle of success, but unfortunately, Bess learned that heartbreak came with triumph, and she was certainly no stranger to sadness.

The story reads very easily, there is the same fine attention to detail and the meticulous research we have come to expect from this author's writing. Rich in detail and alive with treachery, the story of Bess of Hardwick is a fascinating read, the complexity of court intrigue and the corruption and greed of some of the major Tudor personalities comes gloriously alive in a tale of classic ambition and ruthless pride.

There is no doubt that had she been alive in the 21st century, Bess of Hardwick would have been a female entrepreneur in charge of a global company, she was feisty, determined, and as a woman placed in the midst of Tudor England her consummate ambition and spirited determination to succeed was unsurpassed.

Another great historical novel from this talented author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Venus in Winter, 21 Feb. 2015
By 
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Venus in Winter: A Novel of Bess of Hardwick (Paperback)
This book, first published in 2013, is a really great historical novel, telling of the first half of the life of Bess of Hardwick. Her name is perhaps one that is not so widely known as it was, but Bess of Hardwick was a remarkable woman who lived through turbulent Tudor times, and died at the very advanced age of 81; quite remarkable for the times.

Bess’ early beginnings were fairly humble; born Elizabeth Hardwick to a family of gentleman-yeoman stock, she was one of five children when her father died aged forty. His widow later remarried. In this novel, Bess is sent to be a lady at the household of Sir George and Lady Zouche, although this is not necessarily a historical fact. But it serves well to offer Bess an entrance into the Tudor world, the Zouches being members of King Henry VIII’s court.

Bess was married four times, her last marriage (which takes place after the end of this book) to George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, who was later one of the jailers of Mary, Queen of Scots during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Bess was a woman who took the opportunities that life offered her with both hands, and did not fear to follow her own ideals, even when those seemed dangerous in the unsettled Tudor world. She managed to survive through the reign of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and was still admired and honoured by Queen Elizabeth I, quite an achievement in itself. Bess, through her marriages had numerous children and stepchildren and made it a goal in life to settle them all well and successfully. She rose through the ranks from her more humble beginnings to become the powerful wife of a powerful Earl, and is one of those rare women from Tudor times about whom we know quite a lot; she was most certainly not an anonymous wife and mother.

This is a really good historical novel, and I really enjoyed it. Bess is written about pragmatically and ‘honestly’ as a woman of her times. The other characters, many of whom are historical, are well portrayed, and the book is a really good representation of Bess and her life and times.
It’s a great pity that this book finishes when Bess is only about 40 years of age, as much of the really exciting and great achievements and struggles lay in the second half of her life. I would like to think that the author may pick up Bess’ story and continue it for us, as I would love to read another novel to complete the story of Bess of Hardwick. I can however recommend, for anyone wanting to read a non-fiction account of Bess, the book Bess of Hardwick: First Lady of Chatsworth by Mary Lovell; a great read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!, 24 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Venus in Winter: A Novel of Bess of Hardwick (Paperback)
An absolutely superbly written novel. Historically accurate as far as I could tell having studied the period with no silly anachronisms such as a certain other famous historical novel writer includes. Bagwell does not try to alter history and give credit to the wrong people and her portrayal of Bess of Hardwick is sympathetic but not sycophantic. The reader is drawn right into the period; nothing grates as the behaviour of the characters and the language spoken appear appropriate for the Tudor period. I do hope Bagwell continues the story as this is only about Bess until about half way through her life - and gosh what an interesting life she had. More please!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will there be a sequel?, 25 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Venus in Winter: A Novel of Bess of Hardwick (Paperback)
I loved this book. Bess has always been one of my favourite historical characters and I have read biographies but this is the first novel I have found relating to her. The story moves along at a good pace and tells of Bess's early life. I hope there will be a sequel carrying on where this one left off particularly regarding her relationship with Mary Queen of Scots as her 4th husband was Mary's jailor for a while. The story shows Bess as a strong woman but also vulnerable and I found myself feeling her terror as well as her happiness. It also showed how she was possibly one of the few women who was friends with Elizabeth Tudor in her early life.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite the justice the lady deserved!, 28 Feb. 2014
By 
John A. Hunter "John Hunter" (AUSTRALIA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Venus in Winter: A Novel of Bess of Hardwick (Paperback)
Whilst very readable, this book does read like any romance novel.
Maybe this is intentional by the author.
Unfortunately, she does not cover the later part of Bess's live, which is where the main body of her achievement takes place.
In the Authors Note, she criticises the previous authors of Bess's life because the lend only a portion of their books to where she covers up to Bess's 3rd marriage.
If you nothing of Bess Hardwick, then you will enjoy, if you have read Ann Digby's book, then you will be disappointed.
It is a good read but faulty.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 1 Aug. 2014
By 
Mrs. Maria Austin (Scotland, UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Venus in Winter: A Novel of Bess of Hardwick (Paperback)
An enjoyable read!
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Venus in Winter: A Novel of Bess of Hardwick
Venus in Winter: A Novel of Bess of Hardwick by Gillian Bagwell (Paperback - 2 July 2013)
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