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1609 James I
‘Orphaned Lucy St. John, described as "the most beautiful of all," defies English society by carving her own path through the decadent Stuart court. In 1609, the early days of the rule of James I are a time of glittering pageantry and cutthroat ambition, when the most dangerous thing one can do is fall in love . . . or make an enemy of Frances Howard, the reigning court beauty.’
“…The kept must have their keepers…”
The era of King James I of England is often, apart from the Gunpowder Plot, a neglected period of history where novels are concerned. It is a period of transition from Tudor to Stuart where pageantry rides alongside sexual ‘entertainment’ and the difficulty of keeping your head, virginity and sanity are all as difficult as each other to accomplish. Suitable marriages were all that concerned the women, and woe betide them if they failed their goal.
Written from the viewpoint of Lucy St John - and yes the name is the same, she was an ancestor of the author. Lucy is an intelligent woman with a knowledge of plants and herbs, giving her access to the medications of the time so that she soon makes a name for herself. We follow her life through romance at Court and her subsequent marriage to Sir Allen Aspley, Constable of the Tower, and the Royal Navy’s chief quartermaster. One of his duties is the care and feeding of the prisoners. We also meet the real-life characters of Walter Raleigh, George Villiers and Frances Howard, who variously appear as courtiers or ‘King’s guests’ within the Tower.
Elizabeth St John brings these years of Stuart England to the fore, bringing the known facts of her ancestor’s life together with richly imagined scenes creating in the process a believable heroine, an intriguing plot and an enjoyable novel.
© Anne Holt