The author of this story is a curator at Hampton Court, looking after the building and collections. For a long time, there had been a story about a ghost who ran screaming down the hall, with the ghost resembling Katherine Howard. Lucy Worsley came to realise that Katherine’s story was never really told, and wanted to shed some light on her character. The events and many characters in this story are real, but characters, such as Eliza, are fiction. This book is suitable for young adults but is a most enjoyable read for all ages.
The story begins with Eliza, who lives with her father at Stoneton Castle. They live in a frugal manner because of a reckless relative, with Eliza understanding it is her duty to marry a wealthy man. Eliza and her father have a close bond, and, with her curious mind and his teaching of science and maths, they spend much enjoyable time together.
An elderly Grandmother is grooming her numerous offspring to appear and work at the King’s Palace, and accepts Eliza as a trainee. Soon, she and her cousin Katherine are chosen to be Maids of the Court. It is here that she learns so much about keeping secrets, listening to whispers, and choosing friends carefully. Eliza and Katherine have never been close, but are thrown together many times.
Following Henry’s marriage to Ann of Cleves, in 1540, Katherine and Eliza were chosen to wait on the new Queen. She spoke little English, and was very demure and quiet. Henry was known to visit her chamber at night, but the news that there was no blood on the sheets after the wedding night, brought great dismay to the Court. Henry was soon bored and the marriage was to be “Unravelled.”
Katherine Howard, with her wonderful looks and her bubbly personality, happened to attract the king’s attention. Eliza was horrified, as she hoped to gain favour with the King, and was still looking out for a wealthy suitor. But the announcement was made, that Katherine would marry the king.
The timeline of events and facts are outlined here, but the fascinating way the story is told really brings it to life. The people, the costumes and the day to day living, create a lasting memory of history for the reader by filling in all the details of life as it was, rather than reading dry facts. The characters come to life, in carrying out their duties and expected roles. Eliza has to battle with the thought that she may lose the love of her life, if she waits for a wealthy suitor.
Lucy Worsley presents history programmes for the BBC, and her intimate knowledge of the life and times at the Tudor Court, make for fascinating reading.
|Distributor||Allen & Unwin|