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The Butcher's Daughter: A Novel Kindle Edition
A woman in Tudor England fends for herself after Henry VIII closes her abbey in this historical novel perfect for fans of Wolf Hall and Philippa Gregory.
In 1535, England is hardly a wellspring of gender equality; it is a grim and oppressive age where women―even the privileged few who can read and write―have little independence.
In The Butcher’s Daughter, it is this milieu that mandates Agnes Peppin, daughter of a simple country butcher, to leave her family home in disgrace and live out her days cloistered behind the walls of the Shaftesbury Abbey. But with her great intellect, she becomes the assistant to the Abbess and as a result integrates herself into the unstable royal landscape of King Henry VIII.
As Agnes grapples with the complex rules and hierarchies of her new life, King Henry VIII has proclaimed himself the new head of the Church. Religious houses are being formally subjugated, monasteries dissolved, and the great Abbey is no exception to the purge. The cosseted world in which Agnes has carved out for herself a sliver of liberty is shattered. Now, free at last to be the master of her own fate, she descends into a world she knows little about, using her wits and testing her moral convictions against her need to survive by any means necessary . . .
The Butcher’s Daughter is the riveting story of a young woman facing head-on the obstacles carefully constructed against her sex. This dark and affecting novel by award-winning author Victoria Glendinning intricately depicts the lives of women in the sixteenth century in a world dominated by men.
“A fresh perspective [of the Tudor Era]. . . . Glendinning’s research convincingly depicts the bustling and frequently ruthless world of Henry VIII’s England.” —Library Journal
“Psychologically astute . . . and evincing deep knowledge of Tudor-era society. Glendinning thoughtfully explores womanhood’s many facets.” —Booklist
“Unabashedly feminist . . . elegant, intelligent, compulsively entertaining. . . . [The Butcher’s Daughter] demonstrates the power of individuals with inner strength and determination to work for change when able to choose a life of their own design.” —Foreword Reviews (starred review)
- The New York Times Book Review
“A richly textured chronicle . . . [with] well written with wonderfully rendered descriptions of place and period and an evocative mix of fiction and fact. The author has created an interesting and observant narrator whose actions and reflections are consistent with her circumstances and the period in which the story takes place. . . . In a world ruled by men cowed before a fickle tyrant, Agnes’s decisions are not only pragmatic but authentic to her time and place which, after all, has to be the guiding principle for historically based fiction.”
- New York Journal of Books
“In this well-researched historical novel, a woman goes from dishonored farm girl to powerful nun in a prosperous abbey, and gets involved in palace intrigue against the backdrop of the reformation.”
- Literary Hub
“A brave girl, a powerful tale, a world on the brink of change– and how the past leaps into life!”
- Fay Weldon
“An immersive, engrossing, and epic journey of a woman's soul, finely researched and beautifully written.”
- Margaret George, author of The Autobiography of Henry VIII
“An elegant, beautifully written ode to the resilience of the human spirit, and a poignant meditation on time and change. As lucent and intricately-detailed as a stained glass window.”
- Carol McGrath, author of The Daughters of Hastings Trilogy
“A beguiling, affecting tale of dissolution and redemption set in a changing–and beautifully wrought–Tudor landscape. Gloriously authentic and refreshingly unromantic, this one got under my skin.”
- Jessie Childs, historian and award-winning author of Henry VIII's Last Victim and God's Traitors
“A fresh perspective [of the Tudor Era] ... Glendinning's research convincingly depicts the bustling and frequently ruthless world of Henry VIII's England.”
- Library Journal
“Psychologically astute ... and evincing deep knowledge of Tudor-era society. Glendinning thoughtfully explores womanhood's many facets.”
“Unabashedly feminist . . . elegant, intelligent, compulsively entertaining . . . [The Butcher’s Daughter] demonstrates the power of individuals with inner strength and determination to work for change when able to choose a life of their own design.”
- Foreword Reviews (starred review)
“I have begun The Butcher’s Daughter and am swept away by the elegant prose. Will Glendinning give Hilary Mantel a run for the money?”
- Mirabile Dictu
“Glendinning writes with a vivid immediacy about a fascinating, dark moment . . . This is the underside of Henry’s religious Reformation… a refreshing and original tale.”
- The Times
“An absolute pleasure . . . assured, quietly gripping, surprising and educative, with a terrific central character, it pins down the precarious nature of life in 16th-century England.”
- The Daily Mail --This text refers to the hardcover edition.
About the Author
- ASIN : B07MXF4QLK
- Publisher : The Overlook Press (June 19, 2018)
- Publication date : June 19, 2018
- Language : English
- File size : 3928 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 345 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #878,359 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Set in the mid 16th century Tudor England under the reign of Henry VIII, it is a historical fiction with a veneer of a contemporary fashionable memoir of Agnes Peppin of intellectual ambition and social aspiration in the face of her lowly social status as a daughter of a country butcher. In fact, this is a tale of a young woman’s incessant struggle to preserve a sense of purpose and a tenacious grasp on intellectual superiority, not of a manifesto pontificating about inequalities and injustice bestowed upon womanhood, which is elegantly conveyed in Agnes’s frequent reference to the story of Mary and Martha in the New Testament. Agnes thinks that Jesus was unjust and unkindly to Martha, her alter ego, who had to take up all domestic menial drudgery, letting her cook meals and wash dishes, while her sister Mary sit beside him and listen to him as long as she pleases. Agnes sees her pathetic self ignored despite her intelligence and intellectual ambition through the figure of Martha and berates Jesus for taking side with the noble, dainty Mary who – under the aegis of Jesus – gets away with menial labor often associated with women of lowly birth. Agnes then further identifies herself with venerable Zeta, a holy woman of the medieval Italy serving as the same family as a maidservant, calling her “good Martha.” Agnes’s defense of the domestic paragons belies her buried sense of bitterness expressed in a general resentment of aristocratic shirkers smothered under daily duties, the existential demands of life ascribed to the members of her social class.
As a matter of fact, Agnes evokes a proverbial image of 19th century American pioneer woman – a woman of coarseness and strength combined with acuteness and acquisitiveness with that restless, nervous energy making her beautiful embodiment of resilience and self-reliance. Elsewhere in the book, Agnes unravels her woebegone wishes to chase her Pyrrhic dreams: “Silk and velvet are lovely. So are emeralds and pearls. A butcher’s daughter may aspire to those things even though it is unlikely, the way things are, that they will come her way. But too much dross comes with all that gold.” And yet, she still steadfastly holds onto her aspiration to achieve vertical social mobility to be a Mary, for she believes that it is her true vocation of life to become a self-reliant single woman with a room of her own and money, just as Virginia Wolfe asserts for a woman’s social as well as economic independence. After all, Agnes is not just another vain half-educated, semi-literate Martha trying to emulate privileged Mary but a strong-headed, courageous, and intelligent woman who finds a solace in learned solitude outside the social and religious confinements as her sense of true identity becomes conspicuous in search of her place in the world.
A richly illuminating read, it is also an informative historical account of the ways of life in Tudor England, such as customs, clothes, trades, and the general ethos of the time, without infelicity to provoke a sense of anachronism or incongruity. It is a surprisingly easy read in terms of the choice of everyday words and pellucid expressions without a display of pedantic knowledge on history and magisterial claim on academic superiority, given the author’s pedigree as Oxford-educated scholar and award-winning novelist. That is the gem of this highly fascinating read: Glendinning’s interpretations draw on her exceptional knowledge of these historical sources, but she wears her leaning lightly and writes with a general reader in mind, which is a true purpose of the Arts. Furthermore, Glendinning’s superb story-telling narrative skills makes her characters all the more realistic and alive, rendering the whole story contemporary with our time and relative to our concern. Glendinning takes the freedom of imagination in the context of regarding historical events and people to create her own fiction that reads like nonfiction. To encapsulate, this is an enjoyable and enlightening read that holds the reader’s attention without invasion of diversion or boredom.
Throughout a score of years, Agnes roams over the countryside and even makes forays into London. She meets and interacts with historical figures of fame and infamy. Agnes morphs into a character unsure of who she is and what she wants to do with her life. This remains unresolved even at the end of the book and for this reader, makes the ending unsatisfying. Throughout the novel, Glendinning uses many authentic terms specific to England of this period. Some of the terms relate to liturgical objects and architecture, tools and items of clothing. This reviewer depended on the e-kindle dictionary to gather the meanings of the terms since most were not clear from the context. For some terms, there were no definitions available. It would have been very helpful to have a glossary of the medieval terms.
Despite its short-comings, this is a worthwhile read. First, it gives a terse review of the upheaval caused by the desires of a selfish monarch, Henry VIII. The dismantling, literally and figuratively, of the Catholic Church created havoc not only for Church employees, but also for the surrounding communities that depended upon the Church for spiritual guidance, charity, food, shelter and an education for their children. The novel also provides a stark picture of the limitations on the lives of females in this era. They were considered by the Church in particular and society as a whole as weak, sexual prey whose main function was to procreate and endure hard labor to serve in a man's world. It is beneficial to be reminded how far most women have come and how others still must abide these constricted and oppressed roles.