Thursday, June 07, 2012

Blog Tour & Review: The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr by Sandra Byrd



First line: Her voice sounded by turns pleased and then pleading, her laughter scaled from bass enjoyment to treble fear.

From the back cover: What she sees in secret, she may not tell.

Mistress Juliana St. John is the lovely, forthright daughter of a prosperous knight's family. Though all expect her to marry the son of her late father's business partner, time and chance interrupt, sending her to the sumptuous but deceptive court of Henry VIII.

Sir Thomas Seymour, brother of the late Queen Jane, returns to Wiltshire to conclude his affairs with Juliana's father's estate and chances upon her reading as lector in the local church. He sees instantly that she would fit into the household of the woman he loves and wants most to please, Kateryn Parr. Juliana's mother agrees to have her placed with Parr for a season and Juliana goes, though reluctantly. 

For she keeps a secret.

Juliana has been given the gift of prophecy, and in one vibrant vision she has seen Sir Thomas shredding the dress of a highly born young woman, while it was still on her body, to perilous consequence.

As Juliana accompanies Kateryn Parr to court, Henry's devout sixth queen raises the stakes for all reformers. Support of firebrand Anne Askew puts the queen and her ladies in life-threatening jeopardy, as does the queen's desire to influence her husband's - and the realm's - direction and beliefs. Later, without Henry's strong arm, the court devolves to competition, duplicity, and betrayal. The risks could not be higher as Juliana must choose between love and honor, personal fulfillment and sacrifice. Ultimately, her course is driven by a final kept secret, one that undoes everything she thought she knew.

My thoughts: I have really come to enjoy reading historical fiction, especially anything set during the Tudor period. I was thrilled when I saw that Sandra Byrd's new book, A Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr was going on tour and I jumped to be part of it.

This is the second book in Sandra Byrd's Ladies in Waiting series, which I did not realize until I started reading the book. Although I prefer to read series in order, I decided that I would read this one first and then if I liked it, I would then go back and read the first one. Well, I will definitely be going back to read To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn.

I haven't read too much about Kateryn Parr and I found this book to be an interesting account of her time as queen. It is narrated by fictional character Juliana St. John, a young woman with the gift of prophecy who joins Kateryn's court. Almost from the moment the two meet, a bond is formed - one that is strengthened by their mutual love of reading and books, something that was not thought highly of for women during this time period. Both were quite vocal about their views on religion and would often lead discussions with other like-minded women - again, an activity that most often took place in private as it could be punishable. I found it fascinating that Kateryn actually wrote and published two books - books that it might seem do not necessarily agree with her husband the king's beliefs. 

Kateryn is the last wife of Henry VIII and the only one of his six wives to survive him. She does this with her witt and the strength of her faith. Having out-lived her three previous husbands, she then goes on to marry once more, but this time for love. Unfortunately, this leads to her undoing.

Because this book is told through Juliana's eyes, we are able to see into the everyday life of a lady-in-waiting. We see what they do, what they give up to be in this position, and the benefits they receive from the position. I loved all the descriptions of the clothing and the parties - I almost felt as if I was there myself! We also get a glimpse into Juliana's personal life - a life that is thrown upside down once a  major secret is revealed.

I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to picking up the first in this series. The third, Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I, is set to be released sometime in 2013 and I will definitely be reading that as I love all things Elizabeth!


About the author: Sandra Byrd has published more than three dozen books in the fiction and nonfiction markets, including the first book in her Tudor series, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn.  Her second book, The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, illuminates the mysteries in the life of Henry's last wife.

For more than a decade Sandra has shared her secrets with the many new writers she edits, mentors, and coaches. She lives in the Seattle, Washington, area with her husband and two children. 
For more Tudor tidbits, please visit Sandra's Website
 
Also, be sure to check out all the other stops on the blog tour and follow the tour on Twitter (hashtag:  #SecretKeeperVirtualTour). 

I received a complimentary copy of The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr by Sandra Byrd from Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.
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2 comments

  1. Thank you very much for reading and reviewing the book, Kristin. I am so glad you liked the book and will be eager to hear your thoughts on the next one, too!

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    1. Thank you for visiting my blog!!! I love when authors stop by. I'm looking forward to reading both To Die For and Roses Have Thorns.

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