Rivals in the Tudor Court
D. L. Bogdan
Kensington, May 1 2011, $15.00
In 1547 Thomas Howard sits in the Tower anticipating execution. He blames his mess on his wife Elizabeth, his mistress Bess Holland, his dolt of a daughter Mary, and especially his hothead son Henry. He reflects back to when Henry VII took the throne as his family’s fortune rose and fell fast due to royal wars. In 1495, he marries Henry’s sister-in-law Princess Anne though he is bit appalled that she is taller than him. However, they have several children but they all die young.
In 1503 Henry VIII sits on the throne. In 1509, Elizabeth Stafford arrives at court as a Lady-in-Waiting. Elizabeth looks forward to becoming a Neville, but instead her father arranges a marriage to widow Thomas. She is loyal to her spouse even when he takes Bess Holland as a mistress. However, as Elizabeth is Queen Catherine’s favorite, Thomas tries to return the family to the prominence of that short loved loftiness before the Battle of Bosworth in 1483 pushes forward Anne Boleyn to the king. At the same time Bess wants wealth and land even if it means destroying her lover.
The prequel to the Secrets of the Tudor Court is an engaging look at the era through the rotating perspectives of Thomas, Elizabeth, and Bess. Though none of the prime trio fully takes charge of the story line leaving it somewhat rudderless, Tudor era fiction fans will find fascinating the viewpoints of lesser players in a period in which it did backstabbing intrigue lead to the Tower.