Thomas Howard, third Duke of Norfolk was a powerful, ambitious and unbelievably selfish man at the courts of the Tudor monarchs, most notably Henry VIII’s. He managed to put 2 of his nieces on the throne and condemned both of them to death. His daughter was married to King Henry’s bastard and might one day have been Queen of England had Henry Fitzroy lived past the age of 17. This is Thomas Howard’s story, as told from his point of view, that of his second wife, Elizabeth Stafford and of his mistress, Bess Holland.
★We see Thomas as a man with all his faults. He is turned into the megalomaniac we know from history by grief and power but he was a man with feelings.
★The characters and relationships were well developed. They each had their own journey to make through the book and you could believe at the end that despite the antagonism and maltreatment involved, Elizabeth would never leave her husband. Domestic violence hasn’t changed much in 500 years.
★The story itself is simply incredible. While reading it I kept having to look on the internet to find out if the events were made up. It seems they were not. The facts came to light when he held his wife captive and she appealed to Thomas Cromwell and again when Elizabeth Stafford, Bess Holland and Mary Fitzroy testified against him
★The pace was quick. I couldn’t put the book down.
☆The title is simply awful. I expected some kind of cheap bodice ripper when I read the title. It put me off reading the book until I picked it up for next to nothing. I started to read the reviews then and decided to give the book a go based on these reviews. I was pleasantly surprised. This is not some kind of soppy romance but a hard core depiction of a man driven by grief and power. He took the idea of looking after no. 1 to new heights.
An easy straight forward read for fans of Tudor fiction. The title and some of the dialogue let it down but I think that you can learn something from this book and I saw Thomas Howard in a different light afterwards – he was still a nasty piece of work though ;)