Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review: Between Two Queens by Kate Emerson

First line: The distance across the Narrow Seas between Calais, the last English outpost on the coast of France, and the town of Dover, in Kent, was less than twenty-five miles.

From the back cover: Pretty, flirtatious, and ambitious. Nan Bassett hopes that an appointment at the court of King Henry VIII will bring her a grand marriage. But soon after she becomes a maid of honor to Queen Jane, the queen dies in childbirth. As the court plunges into mourning, Nan sets her sights on the greatest match in the land...for the king has noticed her. After all, it wouldn't be the first time King Henry has chosen to wed a maid of honor. And in newly Protestant England, where plots to restore the old religion abound, Nan may be the only one who can reassure a suspicious king of her family's loyalty. But the favor of a king can be dangerous and chancy, not just for Nan, but for her family as well...and passionate Nan is guarding a secret, one that could put her future - and her life - in grave jeopardy should anyone discover the truth.

Based on the life of the real Anne Bassett and her family, and drawing extensively from letters and diaries of the time, Between Two Queens is an enthralling picture of the dangers and delights of England's most passionate era.

My thoughts: This is the second in Kate Emerson's Secrets of the Tudor Court series and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This time the author brings to life the character she imagines as Nan Bassett. Called 'Nan' by her friends, there is not a lot known about Anne Bassett, this mistress of Henry VIII, except that he had courted her briefly. How far that went is unknown, but Henry seemed to be fond of her. Nan is brought to court to serve Queen Jane shortly before Prince Edward is born. She is hoping to find herself a good husband, with wealth and title. The story covers Nan's journey through court while she serves the last four of Henry's six wives, where she quickly learns that the Tudor Court is a dangerous place to live, with games and intrigue around every corner.

I liked the way Emerson started each chapter with a passage from actual letters from the period that were about the historical figures in this story. It added a more authentic feel to the book. I also appreciated that there was a family tree, some maps and a list of who's who of historical characters included in the book. I found myself referring to all three quite a bit as I was reading. The Tudor period is one of my favorite time periods and while I have read quite a few books about this era, I still have a hard time keeping track of who is who.

I am looking forward to reading the next book in the Secrets of the Tudor Court series:  A Royal Decree. 

(I purchased this book.)


  1. Sounds like a good read. I too find myself enthralled by this particular period in time and frequently enjoy learning more about it.

  2. This series sounds really good. I enjoy this time period a lot.

    2 Kids and Tired Books


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