19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Excellent book - look forward to the next volumes!,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Poyson Garden (Elizabeth I Mysteries, Book 1) (Hardcover)
As a student of Tudor and Elizabethan History and a life-long admirer of Good Queen Bess, I am always nervous of new novels or TV/Film adaptations about Elzabeth. A case in point is the recent "Elizabeth" film starring Cate Blanchett. Why does anyone have to change the basic facts or to take Elizabeth and her character out of context and create a salacious storyline when her own true life and story is exciting and thrilling enough as it is! As a result I was careful when reading THE POYSON GARDEN, but I was exceptionally pleased with the story and book.
The story runs quickly without the risk of losing the reader on the way. Elizabeth is shown as the quick tempered, vain woman she was, yet the reason for this temper is shown - the stress of being under suspicion (let alone the stress of being possibly murdered!). However, she is also shown as a caring person in her treatment and absolute trust of Meg when everyone else distrusts the girl. The new characters of Meg, Jenks and Ned give a new dimension to Elizabeth - that she is prepared to walk in any social circle and to give her loyalty to any who are loyal to her - she was no snob! I assume that the real background of Meg will be revealed in subsequent books and that we see more of all the characters with additions of others who were important in Elizabeth's life such as Robert Dudley and his sister Mary (who actually saved Elizabeth's life at the cost of her own beauty!)
The mystery itself is excellently set from Hatfield to Hever and Leeds. It would have been interesting to note in the book that Hever was previously owned by the Anne of Cleves until her death in 1558! Elizabeth actually visited her quite often and so would have known the house very well. She was taught by Anne all the housewifely skills such as cooking etc that a gentlewoman would require but not a Queen - this gave rise to a speech later in her life that if she had been turned out of her kingdom in her petticoat she could have made a good living!
Thankyou also for referring to Anne Boleyn in pleasant terms. She certainly did not commit any of the crimes that Henry VIII (that old bluebeard) had her charged with. Queen Anne's life and tragic murder was vindicated by her daughter's golden reign!
What I liked most of all was when fact had been ignored or manipulated (like the ownership of Hever), the change was believable and kept in context of the Tudor period.
Karen Harper also brilliantly and believably used a connection with Anne Boleyn as the poisoner - a relative of the Ormondes. Anne Boleyn was to marry James Butler, but Henry VIII stopped that match without Anne and James ever knowing why the match had been prevented. Anne didn't want to marry Butler, and eventually a match seemed to be arranged between Harry Percy and Anne - till that too was prevented again on Henry VIII's orders.
I would say to Karen Harper the authoress, Thank you very much for such an excellent book using Elizabeth as the heroine, but without necessarily rewriting her story yet again. I look forward to the subsequent books. Well done!