Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley/Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Read: August 8, 2013

The court of Henry VIII is rife with intrigue, rivalries and romance - and none are better placed to understand this than the women at its heart. Katherine Parr, widowed for the second time aged thirty-one, is obliged to return to court but, suspicious of the ageing king and those who surround him, she does so with reluctance. Nevertheless, when she finds herself caught up in a passionate affair with the dashing and seductive Thomas Seymour, she believes she might finally be able to marry for love. But her presence at court has attracted the attentions of another... Captivated by her honesty and intelligence, Henry Tudor has his own plans for Katherine and no one is in the position to refuse a proposal from the king. So with her charismatic lover dispatched to the continent, Katherine must accept the hand of the ailing egotistical monarch and become Henry's sixth wife - and yet she has still not quite given up on love.

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Of all Henry VIII's wives, Katherine Parr is my favorite. I don't know what it is about the history, but I've always felt that she, more than any of her predecessors, understood she was little more than a pawn put suddenly into play. That regardless of rank, life in the Tudor court was a game of chess and that you must be ever on your guard.

Elizabeth Fremantle seems to have been equally intrigued by the last of Henry's brides, carefully recreating her story in her debut novel, Queen's Gambit. Here the cold and calculating ambition of both men and women come to life in an endless galliard of alternating political alliances, suspicion and fear. Brutal and cold, this is the world in which Katherine lived, the role which she was forced into knowing the odds of survival were not in her favor. 

I liked this one for several reasons, but in particular for its portrayal of Katherine affair with Thomas Seymour. Intelligent and clever she recognizes him for what he is early in the novel, but starved for romantic affection her allows herself to disregard his faults in hopes of obtaining marital bliss. History tells us how their union ends, but I really appreciated the internal conflict Fremantle gifted Katherine in this story. Katherine's is a sad fate and I liked the idea that she wasn't entirely blind to it.

Tudor lit is a dime a dozen and let's be honest, the story doesn't change. What marks a title and makes it noteworthy is the adapted research and the ability to maintain the intensity while illustrating Henry's court without falling into the same old rhythm of all the authors who came before you. Fremantle achieves this. Queen's Gambit is a powerful and vivid narrative that brilliantly brings to light the strength and fortitude of the woman forced to endure marriage to an aged and depraved monarch. An absolute must have for any Tudor reader.

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But none notice that she is moving with difficulty through a world that is tipped on its side, or see that she fears falling off its edge.
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Check out all the stops on Elizabeth FreMantle's Queen's Gambit Virtual Book Tour


Monday, August 12
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, August 13
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Review & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, August 14
Review at The Library of Alexandra
Review & Giveaway at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Thursday, August 15
Review at From Left to Write
Friday, August 16
Review & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Monday, August 19
Review & Interview at A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, August 20
Review & Giveaway at Book-alicious Mama
Wednesday, August 21
Review at The Happy Booker
Thursday, August 22
Review & Giveaway at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Friday, August 23
Review & Giveaway at vvb32 Reads
Interview at The Happy Booker
Monday, August 26
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, August 27
Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Wednesday, August 28
Review at Medieval Bookworm
Thursday, August 29
Review at The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Friday, August 30
Review at The Tudor Book Blog
Monday, September 2
Feature & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Interview at Layered Pages
Tuesday, September 3
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Wednesday, September 4
Review at Booktalk & More
Interview & Giveaway at The Tudor Book Blog
Thursday, September 5
Review at A Book Geek
Friday, September 6
Review at History Undressed
Review at Impressions in Ink
Review & Giveaway at Drey’s Library
Review & Giveaway at Always with a Book
Monday, September 9
Review at She Is Too Fond of Books
Tuesday, September 10
Review at A Bookish Libraria
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, September 11
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Thursday, September 12
Review at Closed the Cover
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Review at Carole’s Ramblings and Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
Friday, September 13
Review & Giveaway at Books in the Burbs
Review & Giveaway at A Dream Within a Dream


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