Have I mentioned before that I’m a history nerd? (yes) Okay, have I mentioned before that I am obsessed with Tudor England? (yes) All right then, it sounds like you know everything you need to know about why I am writing this post. No intro needed. On to the list!
5. The Rose Without a Thorn by Jean Plaidy
I don’t know why this book is on this list. Maybe because it was the first Tudor era novel I ever read? Maybe because after this one I started devouring Tudor fiction like it was the only fiction there was? Maybe because I was 11 when I read it so I thought it was the greatest thing ever written? Regardless, I read this book 20 years ago and it has stayed with me
The Rose Without a Thorn follows the life of Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Katherine Howard. You know the one, she was beheaded for having an affair. No, not Anne Boleyn, the other one beheaded for having an affair. It’s a rather tragic story of a young woman in love who became Queen not because she wanted to, but because when the King of England wants you, you don’t say no. While probably outdated, I think some of the themes would probably be even more relevant in the Me-Too era than they were when the book was published in 1993.
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Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Series: Thomas Cromwell Trilogy
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction
Maturity Level: 4
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England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?
Oh my goodness, what a brilliant book! I read a lot of books that I really enjoy, but it’s not very often that I read what I would consider a legitimate masterpiece. This is one of those novels.
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My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Series: The Lady Janies
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
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The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.
At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.
I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was not this.
In a good way.
My Lady Jane was the most outrageous, hilarious Tudor novel I have ever read. The synopsis says “only a passing resemblance to actual history” which is completely accurate. But that’s a big part of what made this book so enjoyable. As a Tudor England fanatic (or at least a former one) it was so refreshing to read a book that was, first of all, about JANE GREY of all people, and second of all, not so caught up in the scandal of who was sleeping with who in court. Instead this novel was about the major political issue of the day, Catholics vs. Protestants, but re-imagined with fantasy elements that make it more fun for the non-Tudor-obsessed reader.
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