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Maid of the King's Court


Maid of the King's Court

Elizabeth has always been an unruly child. Her father and aunt knew little about how to extinguish the fire that burned within Eliza. After her father secured a marriage proposal for her, he thought her future --- and the future of his estate --- was set in stone, but at an unexpected turn, the marriage is swiftly called off. Thus, her father sends Eliza off to school where she is to learn the duties of a royal maid. At court, Elizabeth finds that truth may not always be as it seems, and all secrets are to remain for the safety of her position and of the royal family. In MAID OF THE KING'S COURT, Lucy Worsley weaves a web of secrets in the court of King Henry the 8th.

Lucy Worsley is the chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces, a charity that runs many palaces and buildings across London. Worsley brought in her expertise and her knowledge of King Henry the 8th’s royal court and his wives into her fictitious story. It was exciting to find small details that reflected actual history, similar to how Eleanor Herman weaves history into her Blood of Gods and Royals series about Alex the Great.

"I would recommend this book to history buffs, or people most interested in reading about Henry the 8th and his many wives. "

The prose was absolutely gorgeous. However, it was rather a bit old-fashioned. The old-fashioned prose was expected as it reflects its genre in being a historical fiction novel. That said, the prose gives way to dialogue that, instead of just being old-fashioned, feels forced, almost robotic.

The narrative is rather young which contrasts with the flowery language. Usually, when the protagonist is so young --- Eliza is 12-years-old --- I recommend younger YA readers to read it. However, since Elizabeth has to deal with mature elements such as marriage, affairs, and the financial status of her family's estate, this would seem to be targeted toward an older crowd. But one minute she is going on about her teddy bear and the next she's having an affair or thinking about childbirth. It seems inconsistent, and at risk of not having a specific target audience.

Eliza seems to rapidly age with a quick mention of time passing. Worsley moves the novel at such a fast pace. This makes it incredibly easy to read. However, her characters suffer the most as readers see very little development through the course of the novel.

With the Author’s Note (which is mistitled as the Epilogue) readers find that Worsley wrote the book to focus primarily on Katherine Howard and her story as the wife of Henry the 8th. Katherine Howard is only a side character in MAID OF THE KING'S COURT and her time as wife does not occur until the very end of the novel. Elizabeth, the protagonist, is Katherine’s cousin which is how their paths intertwine. As much as a surprise it was to discover that a side character was meant as the main focus, it is interesting to note that Katherine’s story is a much more compelling tale than that of Elizabeth’s.

I would recommend this book to history buffs, or people most interested in reading about Henry the 8th and his many wives. Overall, MAID OF THE KING'S COURT by Lucy Worsley rang a bit flat, with a lack of character development, an inconsistent target audience and confusion in the primary focus of the novel.

Reviewed by Jeanna Michel on March 14, 2018

Maid of the King's Court
by Lucy Worsley