My daughter has read two different Lucy Worsley Books and she loved both of them. She appreciates the way Lucy manages to tell a story about interesting Historical characters and weave in all those historical details that just make the time period come to life. She makes the story entertaining without losing that historical authenticity. So when she spotted another Lucy Worsley book – Eliza Rose she immediately wanted to read it. And as luck would have it our local library had it in stock.
The story is about Eliza Rose, a young noble girl who needs to marry well so that her family estate can survive.
She starts off having an arranged marriage (which does not get very far), gets sent away to learn how to be a lady and then ends up being sent to Hampton Court Palace as a lady in waiting. The initial hope was that she would marry one of noble men in the court. While she is learning to be a lady and when she is at Hampton Court Palace she is with her cousin – Katherine Howard. The book talks about Henry’s marriage to Anne of Cleves and to Katherine Howard. Anne of Cleves is portrayed as being very kind (and a bit naive) whereas Katherine Howard is depicted as being more manipulative and very determined to get what she wants. So let me state straight away – there are sections in the book where they talk about Henry having mistresses and Henry sometimes making unwelcome advances onto some of the ladies of the court. There are scenes where sex is implied but it is not explicit.
The one part of the story that my daughter struggled with was when Eliza Rose’s father visited her at Hampton Court Palace and told her she she needed to save her family by becoming Henry’s mistress. That Eliza’s own dad would tell her to do that, that just was shocking for my daughter. But that is actually why I like books like this because they open up a discussion, a discussion about how the role of women in society has changed over the times, how in the Tudor times they were treated as objects controlled by their fathers and husbands. That being said it is because of topics like this that I would suggest the book is suited for kids 12+ years old.
Putting aside the whole Henry wives, Henry mistress aspect of things the book really does make you feel like you are living in the Tudor times with Eliza Rose. Who knew you needed to take your own knife to eat with at Hampton Court Palace? The food they ate, the clothes they wore, the entertainment, how time consuming and uncomfortable travelling in a horse and carriage was. So many details get woven into the story that you feel like you have stepped back in time and you can actually picture Tudor England. And yes after reading the book there is a very strong possibility that your kids will want to visit Hampton Court Palace. Luckily for us we are nearby and love visiting it so I was only too happy to oblige with another trip to talk about which corridors we think Eliza and Katherine might have walked in.
Both my daughter and I have read the book and both of us recommend it. We think anyone who enjoys Historical Fiction and who is interested in Tudor England will find this a fascinating and entertaining read.
The other two Lucy Worsley books that we have read and loved are – Lady Mary and The Austen Girls.
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