Top positive review
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Expected to hate it but actually loved it!
on 8 October 2014
When this book was chosen by my historical novel book group, and introduced with an explanation of Suzannah Dunn's decision to write historical novels in 21st century language, I expected to dislike it intensely, and almost didn't get beyond the first couple of pages, which I found confusing, but persevered because I'd actually bought the book and it seemed a shame to admit defeat so soon. A few pages further in, and I couldn't put it down!
There were lots of things that I liked about this book - the easy, flowing style, the compelling narrative in the first person which brought it vividly to life, the way that the author unobtrusively wove in a lot of historical detail about daily life in Tudor times, and the way she related the reformation via the personal opinions of the characters in the book. There were also some stunningly good descriptions here and there which made me marvel at her power as a writer.
Although not exactly a history buff, I am reasonably well-informed about Katherine Parr, and have visited Sudeley Castle several times, so was picturing the part of the book set in Sudeley as I was reading. (I now want to go there again, to contemplate the book in that setting.) I had assumed all the way through that Thomas Seymour's affair with the narrator was based on fact, so I was rather taken aback to read in the author's note at the end that she made it up. WHAT??? I must admit that seems a real liberty and I wonder at the necessity of doing that - surely there was enough other intrigue going on in Tudor times to provide a real-life story to inspire her instead? But by that point, I'd enjoyed the novel so much that I was already determined to give it 5 stars, because it was a terrific read.
I feel sorry for the author that she has had such poor reviews here when what she's done is a challenging and innovative task - and to my mind much more exciting to read than some other authors who have taken the traditional route. I felt her approach made me feel much more in touch with historical figures and their society, and I'm really glad I read this book. I shall look out for more of her historical novels, and I'd be interested to read her fiction with a contemporary setting there.