Monday 30 January 2023

MY LADY SPY by Gemma Lawrence @TudorTweep #TuesdayBookBlog

5 GOLD stars

On Amazon (universal link)
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: a favourite author, a great series, I was looking forward to it rather than discovering it!  Originally discovered Gemma Lawrence via Twitter; first read her work on Wattpad.

In a Nutshell: Book 5 of the Armillary Sphere series, about Lady Jane Rochford.

Easily my favourite book in this series so far, My Lady Spy is set during Lady Jane's time at court during the reign of three wives of Henry VIII: Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard.  

Jane Seymour

The slight psychic abilities that Ms Lawrence has given Jane are beautifully written in this book; the one that sticks in my head, in particular, is her momentary vision of how Catherine's life might have been had the King died during their marriage.  In another writer's hand this somewhat supernatural element could have seemed out of place in a novel with such factual credibility, but Gemma Lawrence gets it just right.

Anne of Cleves

When Jane is coaching the ladies in her charge, as preparation for the arrival of Anne of Cleves, much is explained about the protocol of the court and the day to day life of those who lived there; I enjoyed reading this very much, and also the way in which life in London is portrayed.  I also loved the way in which Jane's own inner story develops in this book, as she deftly controls her obligations to Cromwell while dealing with her own loneliness and sadness, and her loyalty to her true masters: all three queens.  All hail Anne of Cleves, perhaps the most clever of all six, and certainly the most fortunate.

The story of Jane's close friendship with Catherine Howard is heartbreaking to read, knowing as we do how it must end.  I was glad it brought them both some happiness for a while, however short-lived.

Tamzin Merchant as Catherine Howard in The Tudors

This novel gives much grim detail about the ruthless, evil dissolution of the monasteries, and makes all too clear the daily tension of living in a world where one never knew what the tyrant King would do next; on several occasions I saw certain parallels with our world now.  History repeats itself in many ways!

'Common people, noble too, did not welcome all that had happened over the past three years.  Elements of life left unchanged, stable for generations, for all time as far as the collective memory of the people understood, had altered beyond recognition in a matter of months.  The world, once stable under our feet, was trembling, and the people did not like it.'

'If those in ultimate control of us are evil then there is no hope for us, so we blame others.  We make our masters, these tyrants, innocent so we remain safe in their power.  Fictions control more of the world than we realise.'

'When tragedy comes for one, it comes for all.  Evil does not affect but one of us, not just a few, but permitting evil, standing aside as it rides towards us, allows it into our world, and all our world it poisons, a little at a time.'

This episode ends as Catherine Howard marries the King, and as Cromwell gets his just deserts (head removed from body).  I loved everything about this novel, and only wish Book 6 was already available!


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