Hello dear readers! I am so sorry I haven’t had posts in a few days. I’ve had two job interviews this week (yay!) that I had to prepare presentations for (boooooo!). I decided to tick another item off my month’s TBR list that is related to the jobs I applied for: The Lady in the Tower by Marie-Louise Jensen!
First, the synopsis from Amazon:
I am afraid. You are in grave danger. Mother, will you run away with me if I can free you?
The servants call it the Lady Tower: the isolated part of the castle where Eleanor’s mother is imprisoned after a terrible accusation. For four years Eleanor’s only comfort has been their secret notes to one another.
A chance discovery reveals a plot to murder her mother. Now Eleanor must free her before it is too late. But with danger and betrayal at every turn, she can trust no one. Especially not her father.
Eleanor must use all her cunning to survive. For she soon realises that it is not just her mother she needs to save . . . but also herself.
First of all, I must say that the nice thing this book enlightened me to was the true story of Walter Hungerford, 1st Baron Hungerford of Heytesbury and his third wife, Elizabeth Hussey. While Eleanor is a work of fiction, the story of her parents is not. Walter Hungerford did keep his wife imprisoned in a tower in Farleigh Castle and tried to have her poisoned several times. And, if you’re ever in the UK and wish to see where the crime took place, Farleigh Hungerford Castle is part of the National Trust and open to visitors.
I enjoyed this book. It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve read (see my review for See Me by Wendy Higgins for that so far…), but it wasn’t the most gripping thing I’ve ever read. It follows Eleanor Hungerford, who happily escapes betrothal only to have another arranged marriage thrust upon her, all while trying to free her mother from being locked away in the tower and trying to avoid befriending the woman her father wishes to make his fourth wife.
Insert a cameo from a Anne-of-Cleves-era Henry VIII who at one point tries to seduce Eleanor, who several times makes note of how flatulent he is.
One thing that bothered me was the mention of sex — or lack of it. Eleanor is 15, for heavens sake. I understand that she has her mother removed from her life at the age of 11 and may not have had someone to explain to her (but she had plenty of surrogates in the kitchen staff), but she is completely ignorant of sex and sexual relations at the beginning of the book, and somehow is knowledgable of them at the end!
For example, Eleanor’s mother is explaining her imprisonment to a local doctor. Eleanor notes that she uses several explanations that she does not understand regarding her imprisonment and the men in charge of it. Again, when she is summoned by Henry VIII late in the evening, she is clueless as to why he would want her company, although the women bathing her are making remarks on it. Finally, when someone questions her if she has had “unnatural relations” with her father, she completely understands the meaning! It’s a little inconsistent.
Eleanor, being a 15-year-old in Tudor times, would have known what sex was. Women were being married off as young as 12 and expected to bear children. While they weren’t all bawdy, she most certainly would have had knowledge of why she was being called to Henry’s bedchamber and what was expected of her.
I think that’s my biggest complaint of the book. The powerlessness of women is reflected well in the writing. You definitely gain a sense of The World vs Eleanor and Elizabeth. Historical fact is blended well with fiction. If I were 14 again, I would probably be incredibly entertained by this book.
There is a romantic interest, but the whole thing was kind of “meh” for me. It definitely does not take center stage. A majority of the book is Eleanor’s preoccupation with freeing her mother.
If you wish to find out more about the book or the author, check out the author’s website here.
I wanted to get a really awesome shot of this book infront of the Palace I was interviewing at, but I was so afraid that someone would see me and think it was unprofessional! Maybe next time… I have a second interview next week!