July 23, 2012
First sentence: "You're not going to steal anything."
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
When I first saw this one at the store, I dismissed it as yet another paranormal romance. I mean, really: doesn't that cover scream paranormal romance??
Thankfully, Liz B. read it and loved it, enough to make me want to pick it up. Because there was no way I would have guessed from the cover that this is about one of my favorite periods in English history: the Tudors.
More specifically, it's the story of Catherine Howard, Henry VIII's sixth wife. How she came to power, and how she fell from it as well. However, Longshore does us the favor of not making Catherine (or Cat, to her friends) the center of the story (even though she often wanted to be the center of attention!), instead making a friend of Catherine's, Kitty Tylney, our eyes and ears. In this way, we get to see the corruption and the power grabs from the outside; Kitty is close enough to be affected by the power, but not so close that she succumbs to it.
In many ways, this is Phillipa Gregory-light. And I say that with all the affection I can muster. I love Gregory's Tudor books (even if I can't get through the Other Boleyn Girl) for their sweeping dramatizations of history. Longshore did much of the same thing: giving us sweeping vistas, beautiful dresses, corrupt men and women using girls as pawns in their elaborate games. (And all the sex was off-screen.) I also liked, much like Liz, that this was a side of Henry VIII that we don't often get to see. Many stories have been written about his earlier wives, but I knew next to nothing about Catherine Howard. Granted, it's fiction, not history, but I felt that Longshore did her research and did an admirable job weaving the history into the story.
It was captivating, engaging, and all those other words people use to gush over books. I'm looking forward to the next book that Longshore writes.