Tuesday, August 8, 2017
Maid of the King's Court, written by Lucy Worsley. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2017. $21.99 ages 12 and up
If you are a fan of Downtown Abbey, you probably know a teen who will enjoy this historical novel concerning King Henry VIII's court. After an early scandal, Elizabeth Camperdown has been trained to be a lady-in-waiting, thus more likely to find a husband who will help her to save her father's fortune. Elizabeth is a red-haired beauty. She and her cousin Katherine Howard arrive to attend to Anne of Cleves, Henry's new wife.
Henry is unhappy with Anne for her failure at marriage, and sends her from his court. Katherine becomes the object of Henry's attention, and after becoming his mistress, she subsequently is made his sixth wife. But, her fate is far worse than Anne's. She is tried and executed for adultery.
Elizabeth watches in horror (and narrates quite eloquently) the goings-on, and is careful to protect herself. She has a choice, which means she has some power. Will she become the next mistress to a bawdy, powerful ruler, or will she choose true love?
This is a look at a very particular place and time. It moves fluidly and quickly forward, packed with tension and an innate knowledge that both young women have little power over the situation in which they find themselves. Drawing from history, Lucy Worsley (chief curator at Historical Royal Palaces in London) has penned a compelling novel that is a romantic, and often terrifying look at the customs and circumstances of England in the mid 1500s. It is an auspicious debut.