Lucy Worsley is an historian who I greatly admire, for her BBC documentaries and her work as Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces. She has recently released two novels for young readers, and although they may be marketed as Young Adult I found them to be light, engrossing reads for adults. The first novel is Eliza Rose.
This novel is set during Henry VIII’s reign, and explores the life of his fifth wife, Katherine Howard, through the eyes of our fictional narrator, Eliza Rose. When her betrothal falls through, Eliza is sent to school with Katherine. It becomes immediately clear that Katherine is the prettiest and most popular girl, but also the most spiteful and outspoken. When both girls are sent to court and Katherine becomes queen, will Eliza survive the treachery surrounding her?
Lucy Worsley is well-known for believing Katherine to be more than the ‘good time girl’ stereotype which history has proclaimed her to be. So I was very surprised that she’d written this novel which does nothing to dispel that stereotype! Worsley does attempt to explain Katherine right at the very end of the book, but it is too little, too late after 300 pages of a snarky, self-centred flirt.
If you know little about Katherine already, I wouldn’t recommend this book, because there is little attention to detail on the big events in her life. Eliza is not close enough to events and more often than not is told what has happened, rather than seeing it for herself. You may find yourself wondering how things came to happen, with no explanation to satisfy you.
This book is a frothy, enjoyable read if you know the history of Katherine Howard and are not looking for a taxing historical account. I give it three out of five stars.
My Name is Victoria
The second novel is set during Princess Victoria’s childhood, during the lead-up to her becoming the famous Queen Victoria who we all know. A girl called Miss V is sent to be the princess’ companion, but her real duty is to spy on Victoria. As Miss V grows closer to Victoria, her loyalty to her father is called into question as she sees the rigid rules which the princess lives by. How far will she go to protect her new friend?
I read this a few months ago, at a time when I wasn’t feeling great in myself, and I gobbled it up. It was the right book at the right time. I even wrote to Lucy Worsley to tell her and I received a note back! For that reason, I gave it five stars.
Are you a Lucy Worsley fan, or have you never heard of her?