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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 28 November 2012
Set within the sumptuous perils of King Henry Vlll's court and the downtrodden dangers of the bawdy houses of Old London Town, The Winchester Goose is a fascinating tale of love, betrayal, and the expectations and machinations of court life, coupled with the hand-to-mouth existence of the poor.

Two gently-born young ladies, Isabella and Evelyn Bourne, become ladies-in-waiting to King Henry's new queen, Anna of Cleves. Yet courtly life is not as easy and comfortable as it might appear. Their lives and their fate become inextricably linked with one Joanie Toogood, a Winchester Goose (or prostitute) who plies her trade in the stews on the other side of London Bridge.

This novel gives a fascinating insight into what life was like in Tudor times, both for the rich and the poor. Judith Arnopp's prose invokes the smell of the Thames, the cries of costermongers, and the stately strains of court music. You will also hear the thud of the headman's axe, and low whispers in dark corridors as secrets pass between court spies.

If you like your historical novels rich with lust, danger and drama then I can thoroughly recommend The Winchester Goose, the latest book by historical novelist Judith Arnopp.
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on 30 December 2012
For all who love to read about Tudor London, Arnopp's new novel is a must. Although it is set at the time of Henry VIII's court,it is not the usual tale of courtiers, but is set in the mean streets of Southwark, where the girls of easy virtue known as the Winchester Geese ply their wares. The main character Joanie Toogood is a woman easy to like, and seems set for a life as a prostitute, until she meets the happy go lucky Francis Wareham...who is involved in work for the King's secretary Thomas Cromwell.
Arnopp weaves a credible and intriguing tale which moves from the Queen's household to the back streets, and the story holds the interest until the very end.
Don't miss it.
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on 29 November 2012
We are used to books set in the times of HenryIII, it is a fascinating period and his court is full of interest and intrigue, not least because of the activities of Thomas Cromwell. However, we are not so accustomed to becoming involved in the goings -on across the river from Henry's court, where the local prostitutes known as 'The Winchester Geese' ply their trade on Bankside. In this fascinating book the wonderful character Joanie Toogood has worked the streets since childhood, but her life is changed forever when she encounters Francis Wareham, Cromwell's spy. Back at court, Wareham has also set his cap at Evelyn and Isabella Bourne, members of the Queen's household, and the girls, along with Joanie, are drawn into the intrigue and shadow of the executioners blade.
As with all of Arnopp's novels, this is beautifully written drama with the 'unputdownable' quality we have come to expect.
Don't miss it.
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on 1 January 2013
This author wrote about a time in history we've only read about in history books. She brings the characters of the time up to date and I felt as though I'd seen them in a new light. She must have spent hours researching the subjects and the information she reveals is amazing. A really good read with an exciting plot.
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on 23 June 2013
This is the first book I have read by this author but it certainly won't be the last. Her characters are believable and well-drawn in a sympathetic style. I liked the different approach to life at the Tudor court and also what some of the characters got up to out of it where two completely different worlds met and mingled. The plot is good and carries the reader along at a fine pace and I was sorry to finish it. So why only 4 stars? I felt that the ending was rather rushed and somewhat implausible depending as it did upon an uncertain (to my mind) identification. But do not let that put you off - it is very well worth the read, and I look forward to the follow-up.
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on 29 December 2014
I read this book in less than two days as I simply couldn't put it down The characters involved in the story brought tears to my eyes as I was swept along through Tudor England and the lives of the people who lived it. Joanne Toogood, the Winchester goose with a heart of gold is the one character I engaged with most, she was a tart with a Hart! The whole story from beginning to end was a compelling tale of love, lust, violence and heartbreak and I lived amongst it being swept along with every single word into the other side of Tudor England. I would love to see a follow up to this book as I fell in love with the Bournes as well as Joanie. Judith Arnopp works her magic yet again, just brilliant!
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on 13 December 2013
I love historical novels and loved this. Written in an easy to read style about a period of history of which I knew only the basics. A blend of fact and fiction I found this a book that I read quickly as I kept wanting to get back to it. I've bought another one of Judith Arnopp's books as a result, too.
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on 29 May 2013
Through the actions of an unfaithful husband, the worlds of the Tudor court and the Southwark stews become inextricably linked.
But things are not what they seem - The Tudor court is rife with politics and intrigue, whilst a Southwark whore with a generous spirit personifies compassion. Joanie (the prostitute) takes responsibility for her actions in a way that puts her betters to shame - the only thing is they have the money and power, whilst she slowly starves.
All manner of life is here, from sisterly love, to motherly compassion, from lecherous men to dull husbands - a story of people making do in difficult circumstances and nobility in unusual places.
This is an uplifting novel about the richness of the human spirit, set in a Tudor world evocatively summoned by Ms Arnopp's words. I was drawn to this book after reading a summary and my expectations were exceeded to the point that I was disappointed (but thoroughly satisfied) when the book ended. Highly recommended.
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on 22 August 2013
Moves through life in the uncertain world of Henrician London with pace and gusto. A range of carefully crafted characters reflect all levels of society, showing the effects of the Reformation on a number of vulnerable women including Henry's fifth queen Katherine Howard.
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on 6 September 2014
There is much to commend in this book. It is an enjoyable romp which has some good characters and an engaging story. There are a few niggles though. We are looking at the lives of a family of prostitutes and yet none of them ever mention having been pregnant, giving birth or aborting an unwanted child. Clearly the mother of the three women, herself a career prostitute, had given birth on a number of occasions. Granted that the women in the book are malnourished and in poor health which may have affected them but methods of prevention at this time were likely to be rudimentary and inefficient. The Great Pox is also barely touched upon. Fear of contraction is mentioned once and then immediately forgotten. Given that the incidence of Syphilis in the 16th Century was very high and that lock hospitals came rather later, then we would surely have expected more mention and perhaps also seeing sufferers in the street even.There is some violence towards the women tackled but what about bawds and pimps? Even if the women were free agents, given that they are in Southwark then surely these would also have figured in their lives even if only as a nuisance? All in all niggles apart I did enjoy this book and would recommend it.
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