e-Royalty’s Best-Loved Books of 2015
We still can’t stop talking about our favorite e-Royalty books of 2015! These books brought our beloved Plantagenets and Tudors, as well as their friends and adversaries to life. Last year we recommended biographies, historical fiction, mysteries and more.
If you’ve been looking for a good book to curl up with and transport you to a medieval time and place, then here are a few titles you might have missed but we think you’ll enjoy in 2016.
Inside the Tudor Court, by Lauren Mackay
This 2015 book is an absolutely riveting account of Henry VII’s court from 1529, when Henry’s infatuation with Anne Boleyn had already started him down the road to divorce… to 1545, by which Henry had married his sixth and last wife, Katherine Parr. Now you may think this is well-trod territory but author Mackay uses the dispatches and letters of Eustace Chapuys, the Spanish Ambassador, and wonderful friend and councilor to Queen Katherine of Aragon and then later her daughter, Princess Mary. The book’s viewpoint of Henry’s court is completely Chapuys. If you’re looking for new interpretations and unexpected revelations, all based on sound research, then Inside the Tudor Court should be first up on your 2016 reading list.
King John: Treachery and Tyranny in Medieval England, by Marc Morris
Marc Morris has written a crisp and fast-moving account of a particular tangled time in English History: the reign of John Lackland, youngest son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and the tortured road to Magna Carta. Morris provides an unusual approach in telling King John’s story. Instead of a chronological telling of John’s life, Morris begins his story in 1203 in the middle of John’s reign. The next chapter reverts all the way back to the beginning of the Plantagenet dynasty in 1120 and John’s place in it, then leaps forward to 1204, then back to 1189. Throughout King John, Morris keeps his story fresh and immediate.
Elizabeth I and Her Circle, by Susan Doran
This new book on Queen Elizabeth focuses on her relationships with the people surrounding her. Like Marc Morris’s book on King John, this book is not written chronologically, but thematically. Elizabeth’s “circle” is divided into three main groups: kin, courtiers and councilors. The “kin” are Elizabeth’s parents and siblings, the Grey cousins, Mary Queen of Scots and James VI. The courtiers are Robert Dudley (Leicester), Christopher Hatton, Robert Devereux (Essex), and the women of Elizabeth’s chambers. The councillors are William Cecil (Burghley), Francis Walsingham, and Robert Cecil. Doran’s research is deep and thorough and her prose is crisp and clean. She takes the familiar old story, turns it on its head, and then spins out a tale that is far more interesting and true!
The King’s Curse, by Philippa Gregory
One of the eagerly anticipated historical fiction books of 2015, Ms. Gregory did not disappoint as she told the story of Lady Margaret Pole, the last of the Plantagenet Princesses. She was the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence and niece of Edward IV and Richard III, cousin to Elizabeth of York and Henry VIII. The curse of the title is Henry VIII’s curse where the Plantagenet women of a previous generation cursed the Tudor king with the inability to raise a son to carry on the Tudor line. The first-person narrative, as seen through the eyes of Lady Margaret, is absorbing and enlightening. Here is a good story where history proves once again to be fertile ground for a fascinating novel.
Eleanor of Castile, by Sara Cockerill
Eleanor of Castile is one of the many “hidden” women of the Middle Ages. Her personal childhood experiences, as one of many children of the King of Castile, are not recorded. As the 13-year-old wife of a young Prince Edward (later Edward I), she made no particular mark on the chroniclers of the time. There is, therefore, much in this biography that is conjecture. But in the hands of Sara Cockerill, it’s informed and plausible conjecture. Ms. Cockerill gives us a thorough picture of Eleanor’s life. The book is thoroughly researched, beautifully written and paints a delightful portrait of a queen, a marriage and the 14th century English court.
With All for All, by Darren Baker
This very enjoyable non-fiction book is about the life of Simon de Montfort who married Henry III’s sister, Eleanor. Montfort grew into one of most overwhelmingly powerful characters at Henry’s court. Montfort’s life was played out against an ever-shifting landscape of alliances and agreements, balanced by treachery and betrayal. Mr. Baker has written a biography that depicts the magnificent inconsistencies of both the man and his times, Mr. Baker brings Simon de Montfort vividly to life, along with his chief adversary and brother-in-law, Henry III.
If you’d like to read e-Royalty’s book reviews on each of these books, then please click here.
Why not start your own book club?
One of the best ways to get even more out of a good book is to participate in a book-club with friends who share your passion for all things Tudor and Plantagenet. My friends have one we call Tea and Tudors (although we read about the Plantagenets too). Our last book we read was The Winter Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick.
If you’re not in a book club or would like to start one, we can show you how. Click here to read How to Start a Medieval Book Lovers Club.
You can start with the six we name here or choose your own. Either way there are always great new books to read and e-Royalty keeps you on top of wonderful titles to enjoy, plus what’s new and upcoming. Check out the best new Tudor and Plantagenet books planned for 2016.