Watch the Lady
Delving into an Elizabethan era story, laden with court intrigue, petty jealousies and the struggle for a kingdom, Elizabeth Fremantle held me captive with her words: bringing to life the tensions, machinations and emotions that fuel the story.
Penelope is a Lady In Waiting to the Queen, and a sister to the favored Earl of Essex, Robert. A reknown beauty, Penelope is not all aflutter at the courtly gestures, poems and compliments, she is aware that the beauty is fleeting, and only careful maneuvering will keep her head above her shoulders and her position in court and society secure.
Adding to Penelope’s character and the story are the glimpses of an aging Queen Elizabeth: paranoid, lonely and often more spiteful than spiritual. The question of an heir to the throne combined with tumult and uprisings fueled by Scotish claims, French tumult and Spanish explorations have influenced the Queen’s attitude, approach and ultimately her happiness. It is rather sad to see the decline of one who survived such challenges and unrest only to become frail, crotchety and quite pitiable in the end. Solidly resting on the historical fiction shelf, with plenty of actual events, people and references I have heard made in texts of the time, there is a truism here: truth is stranger than fiction, particularly in the Tudor dynasty.
Narration is stellar in this story: variations in tone and delivery delineate both characters and emotion, and tension with every utterance. Voicing Penelope’s story is Georgina Sutton who’s accent and tone clearly present a 16th century woman, giving life to Penelope and deftly presenting conversations, accents and approaches in her recollection of events. Roy McMillan voices the story from the major enemy of Penelope, Robert Cecil, with a sly tone always jostling for advantage, ever watchful. The two perspectives on the story wind together to present a wonderfully gripping read as Essex’s life and fervor implicate and embroil Penelope in the whispers of suspicion.
Not only a story that shows the more tragic side of the mid-16th century Tudor court, but a story of Penelope’s struggle to exert her own will onto her life: an arranged and loveless marriage traded for true long lasting love and children with Blount: disgrace in divorce and adultery, refusal to remarry and legitimize her children, but her own escape from trials and tortures that so many of her group fell prey to. Not everyone attached to the court lost everything, although it often feels so: Penelope was one who escaped due to her wits, her charm and a touch of luck.
Stars: Overall 4 Narration 4 Story 5
Title: Watch the Lady
Author: Elizabeth Fremantle
Series: The Tudor Trilogy #3
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
Narrator: Georgina Sutton, Roy McMillan
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Published on: 18 June 2015
Source: Simon and Schuster Audio
Audio Length: 14 Hours: 50 minutes
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THE QUEEN'S GODDAUGHTER.
HER FAVOURITE MAID.
HER DEADLIEST ENEMY?
Penelope Devereux is a legendary beauty in the court of Elizabeth but it's not just her looks which mark her apart.
With her canny instinct for being in the right place at the right time, and her skilled political manipulation, she has become a formidable adversary to anyone who stands in her path.
And now, Penelope must secure the future of the Devereux dynasty at whatever cost. Even treason. For the Queen is just one more pawn in a deadly game.
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A copy of this title was provided via Simon and Schuster Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.