Published by Bloomsbury ANZ on 7th April 2016
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Boffins, Dymocks, Booktopia, Publisher
The captivating debut children's novel from popular television historian Lucy Worsley is an exciting and charming glimpse behind the scenes of the Tudor court.
I would often wonder about my future husband. A knight? A duke? A stable boy?
Of course the last was just a wicked fancy.
Eliza Rose Camperdowne is young and headstrong, but she knows her duty well. As the only daughter of a noble family, she must one day marry a man who is very grand and very rich.
But Fate has other plans. When Eliza becomes a maid of honour, she's drawn into the thrilling, treacherous court of Henry the Eighth . . .
Is her glamorous cousin Katherine Howard a friend or a rival?
And can a girl choose her own destiny in a world ruled by men?
If you were to ask me what one of my favourite periods of history is, I’d probably say The Tudors; specifically, the reign of Henry VIII. There’s something about his reign that just fascinates – which was why Eliza Rose was right up my alley.
Eliza Rose follows the journey of Eliza, a young girl on the cusp of womanhood, as she navigates the politics of court life in Tudor times. One of the fantastic things about this novel is that the narrative is that it’s full of history that makes sense. Too often history becomes “boring” to young people, but Worsley weaves Eliza’s tale in such a beautiful way that it wasn’t hard to enjoy reading it. Worsley puts so much attention to detail into bringing Tudor life alive that you can’t help but feel like you’re part of Henry’s court. You can tell she has a real passion for the time period, as it shows in her prose.
Sadly, as much as I loved it, the little things bothered me too much to give it a higher rating. Everyone knows Catherine Howard (in Eliza Rose, as the alternative spelling of Katherine), the fifth wife of Henry, as a notorious flirt and – to put it in modern terms – a bit of a slut. Her crime against the King, adultery, and her fate the same as Anne Boleyn’s – with a beheading. There’s a great Author’s Note at the end of Eliza Rose that discusses Worsley’s thoughts on Catherine, but sadly they contradict with the way she was portrayed in the novel. We barely get a glimpse of Katherine, despite Eliza’s time at court being based around her cousin. I feel like there was no justice done to Katherine in shedding her in a better light – especially to the younger readers the novel is targeted towards. I also thought it was a bit strange that Eliza herself resembled Henry’s daughter in name and looks (something that the author’s note touches on), when a good part of the novel focuses on how families would use their children in an effort to gain favour with the King by basically prostituting them out (which is what Catherine’s family basically did).
In saying that, there aren’t enough historical novels for young readers out there, and I think that this would give a great glimpse into Tudor life for its intended target audience. If you love Tudor history as much as I do, give this one a go – a great read for all ages.