December 6, 2008

The Queen's Lady - Barbara Kyle

Back to fluff - this time set in Tudor England, an era that I have been fascinated with since I was young.  I still remember reading children's books about Queen Elizabeth, Lady Jane Gray, Mary, Queen of Scots...  The highlight of our family trip to England when I was 13 was a trip to the Tower of London, which I had read so much about!  (As an aside, it is interesting to note the recent interest in this period of history, with the books and movie of The Other Boleyn Girl - I liked the first couple of books, but then they seemed to fade away - as well as the television series The Tudors, which I can't stand).

The Queen's Lady of the title is Honor Larke, ward of Sir Thomas More, lady in waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon (first wife of King Henry VIII) at a time when she has fallen out of favour with the King.  I thought that she was really well written, with lots of layers and complexities.

On the other hand, I did not like how Sir Thomas More was portrayed.  He is a person that I had always admired for staying true to his beliefs, but in this book, he is little more than a monster at times.  And an inconsistent, unpredictable character in this book.  He went from being gentle to brutal to loyal to insane.  He seemed like a different person each time he appeared.  I don't know if this is a true picture, but I didn't enjoy it.

One thing that I found fascinating were the religious arguments.  At various times, the case for Catholicism, Protestantism, and Atheism were given (Honor herself was raised a Catholic, then became involved in helping the "heretics" ie Protestants escape England across the Channel, then became an Atheist after some brutal experiences at the hands of the fanatical cult-like Anbaptists.  You could almost say that this is a story set in Tudor England, told through the story of the Reformation.

Overall, it was an easy read, perfect for this past week when I have been feeling unwell.  I think next up with have to be Utopia by Thomas More though, a book that figured greatly in this one.

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