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Mistress of Mourning: A Novel Paperback – July 3, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 399 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Trade; 1 edition (July 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451236904
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451236906
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #685,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“No other author captures the Tudors like Karen Harper...an exceptional storyteller.” --Susan Holloway Scott, author of The Countess and the King

“The grief of a sister and mother who also happens to be queen of England combines with the fire and spirit of a lovely wax-worker in Karen Harper’s riveting tale of just what might have happened to the princes in the tower and to the first Tudor crown prince.” --Karleen Koen, New York Times bestselling author of Through a Glass Darkly and Before Versailles

"Beloved author Karen Harper brings Elizabeth of York to vivid life… Through the eyes of charming and adventurous wax chandler, Varina Westcott, the tumultuous era of the new-born Tudor dynasty is depicted as it surely was—a time rife with danger, passion and murder. The exciting story and its appealing heroine kept me reading late into the night with sheer enjoyment.” --Sandra Worth, author of Pale Rose of England and The King’s Daughter

“Much like her endearing chandler heroine, Varina, Karen Harper warmly illuminates a little-explored craft and two persistent royal mysteries, skillfully melding the hearts and lives of the high and low born…delivers adventure, romance, and surprise…" — Sandra Byrd, author of To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn

About the Author

Karen Harper is a USA Today bestselling author whose novels, both historical and contemporary, have been published worldwide. A former college and high school English instructor, Harper now lives in Columbus, Ohio, and Naples, Florida, and frequently travels around the country to promote her books and speak about writing.

More About the Author

Karen Harper is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of romantic suspense and historical novels. A native Ohioan, she and her husband divide their time between Ohio and Florida. Karen is a former high school English teacher and English-and-writing instructor for the Ohio State University. (Go Bucks!) Yes, the Harpers are avid Ohio State football fans, but they have a serious side too. They were on the 10-year committee which revamped the main library on campus. The Ohio State Library houses her author collection in Rare Books and Manuscripts.

The Harpers love to travel, and Karen often uses her favorite places as settings for her novels. She's recently written books set in Tudor England and Amish country Ohio. Her latest bestselling trilogy set in Appalachia is THE COLD CREEK NOVELS. These are SHATTERED SECRETS, FORBIDDEN GROUND and BROKEN BONDS. These bring her published books over 60 in a 30-year writing career.

Karen belongs to several writer's organizations, including International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America and The Historical Novel Society. She appreciates hearing from readers on her website at www.KarenHarperAuthor.com--and she answers!

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 17 customer reviews
Great plot, mystery and detail.
Kathryn H. Grimm
This novel took a while for me to get into it (about 100 pages) but once I did I found the characters to be very vivid and the plot suspenseful.
Jennifer Rothwell
If you like Phillipa Gregory you will love Karen Harper.
Jane DeFrank

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Rothwell VINE VOICE on December 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This novel took a while for me to get into it (about 100 pages) but once I did I found the characters to be very vivid and the plot suspenseful. Unfortunately though it then fizzled out towards the end, with loose ends abruptly tied together in a way that gave no real closure to the character's stories. I would have given this novel a solid four stars if not for the ending.
The middle of the novel though, the 'bulk' of it, was very entertaining. The author has created a mystery surrounding a discontented Yorkist during the reign of Henry Tudor (VII). Sir Francis Lovell seeks to destory the 'upstart' King, whilst also wishing to bring to light what he knows of the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower from years before. The sister of the princes, Queen Elizabeth, still mourns for them and seeks to know the truth behind their disappearance. She enlists the services of Varina Westcott, a candlemaker, to carve waxen effigies of her brothers, but Varina soon becomes tied up in the plot of the villian Lovell.
One thing I did find a little strange in this novel is that Queen Elizabeth continuously refers to her husband's enemies as 'Yorkists'; something I find rather ironic when she herself was the daughter of the Yorkist King Edward IV. If her brothers would have survived then they, in turn, would have been the rightful King of England, and not her husband. Considering the amount of guilt she feels about their disappearance, and the extremity in which she mourns them, it would seem that she is not thinking in terms of keeping her husband on his throne. It makes me wonder how the Elizabeth of this novel would have viewed the so-called 'pretenders' to Tudor's throne, Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, but unfortunately neither of these were mentioned in this novel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Martyxyz on December 1, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoy medieval fiction and although there really wasn't any "gotcha" moments, since the villain was hinted
at, very early on, the adventures of the candlemaker,Varina and her accomplice, Nick were fun to read. The conversations of the royal couple, "Good Queen Elizabeth" and King HenryVII were quite interesting. I liked the way
the author blended the mystery of the York Princes in the tower and the unexpected and early death of Prince Authur.
It was also interesting to learn a bit of the arts of candle making and the ties it had to the wax effigies of the royals of the time period.
This was an interesting novel and I look forward to future readings of Karen Harper's novels.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gary Selikow on December 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
A suspense story and historical of two remarkable women in the England of 1501-Varena Westcott a candle maker who mourns for her late husband, and one of her sons, while carving out beautiful wax models and bringing up her other little boy.
And Queen Elizabeth of York, the daughter of Edward IV, the sister of the princes in the tower and Queen of King Henry VII (as well as the mother of the future King Henry VIII)
Elizabeth of York's face was also what the the face of the Queen in playing card decks up to this very day are modeled on.

The Queen hires Varena to carve effigies of her two late brothers and after the death of her elder son and heir Prince Arthur to help resolve what seems to be a murder by poisoning . From then she is swept into maelstrom of mystery, murder, suspense and fear, while being engaged in a romance with the dashing Nicholas.

The characters are strong and engaging and I enjoyed most the novel. Good setting and creatively and engagingly written.Only the end and the role played by Francis Lovell seems a bit off the wall, and detracts from the overall good and entertaining historical mystery
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Unabridged Chick on September 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
Set squarely in the world of 16th century merchants, our heroine, Varina Westcott, is a young widow with a thriving candle-making business. Mourning the loss of her infant son, Varina devotes her time to making beautiful, lifelike angel candles which are sold illicitly as she isn't a member of the city's powerful candle-making guild. As if fending off her predatory suitor isn't challenge enough, she accepts a mysterious commission from the royal palace, which, unsurprisingly, has an enormous impact on her life.

Her client is none other than Queen Elizabeth of York, the wife of Henry VII. Still grieving the untimely deaths of her brothers -- the infamous princes in the Tower -- as well as her two infant children, Elizabeth finds in Varina a kindred spirit. But Varina's seemingly simple commission -- to design wax effigies of Elizabeth's dead kin -- transforms into a more challenging job when Varina is asked to investigate the sudden and mysterious death of Prince Arthur (as in big brother of Henry VIII). There's a predictable romance that I rather liked with a male love interest who was, I'll admit, kind of dreamy.

The novel is split between her first person account and that of Queen Elizabeth, and while I'm not always wild about dual narratives, in this case, it worked. The common loss these two women shared added some depth to this otherwise enjoyably fluffy historical. What sold me on the story, and why I so enjoyed this book, is that Varina worked for me as a heroine -- even when she came dangerously close to that aggravating willful-feisty caricature. She waited out tense situations rather than doing something stupid, for example, and I found her admirable and likeable. (And, yes, I totally want her to be my bestie.
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