Obsessed with all things Tudor-ish, this brings mystery, questions, romance and history into contact with Nicola Cornick’s
The Phantom Tree
I wanted to express my unwavering love for this book – it had the promise of nearly everything that intrigues me: tudor-era historical moments, a mystery in searching for the how and why, and even some adjustment as a character is stuck in a time other than their own. Unfortunately there were threads that went untied, the time travel – aside from being unusual as Alison is stuck in the now, while her awareness and information about the Tudor-era past is her own experience, and the woman in the painting was believed to have died as a teen, but is now identified as someone else.
Firstly – just the set-up is twisted, and should provide plenty of intrigue on its own. Katherine Parr’s daughter, Mary Seymour, was a teen and destined for marriage, just like her cousin. But one is pregnant, the other thought to be heading to witchcraft, when one disappears along with a child never mentioned. See – RIGHT THERE – there is your story as the cousin of Mary actually Alison in the present day, or does the painting that her ex has unearthed have some sort of message for Alison in the present – and where is the child? And just who is related or not. But – that wasn’t the story –as too much time was given over to ‘romance’ and the threads that truly were intriguing- those got lost for me.
Don’t get me wrong – Cornick can write a lovely description and plays with fact and fiction that most moments ‘feel’ as if they could be actually taken from history – when often they are a product of history, word use and imagination giving that sense. And, for someone who loves the concept of an historic figure having the ability to travel in time – and then, perhaps to be aware of the ‘real’ versus the polished and more sanitized versions of history this many years on – is opportunity squandered and not delved into near enough in this book. It’s a solid, if I thought uninspired, and overly convoluted read.
Title: The Phantom Tree
Author: Nicola Cornick
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery Elements, Romantic Elements, Setting: Britain, Tudor
Published by: Graydon House
Published on: 21 August, 2018
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 11 Hours: 41 minutes
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Browsing an antiques shop in Wiltshire, Alison Bannister stumbles across a delicate old portrait—identified as the doomed Tudor queen, Anne Boleyn. Except Alison knows better. The subject is Mary Seymour, the daughter of Katherine Parr, who was taken to Wolf Hall in 1557 and presumed dead after going missing as a child. And Alison knows this because she, too, lived at Wolf Hall and knew Mary...more than four hundred years ago.
The painting of Mary is more than just a beautiful object for Alison—it holds the key to her past life, the unlocking of the mystery surrounding Mary’s disappearance and how Alison can get back to her own time. To when she and Mary were childhood enemies yet shared a pact that now, finally, must be fulfilled, no matter the cost.
Bestselling author of House of Shadows Nicola Cornick offers a provocative alternate history of rivals, secrets and danger, set in a time when a woman’s destiny was determined by the politics of men and luck of birth. A spellbinding tale for fans of Kate Morton, Philippa Gregory and Barbara Erskine.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.