As an historian, books which fall loosely into the "historical novel" category are always a problematic choice. If I could just switch off my critical faculties I'm sure that most books of this nature would be much more enjoyable for me. On the other hand, when I do stumble upon books which are true to the period the pleasure is immeasurably enhanced, and this is what happens when I pick up one of Harrod-Eagles' books. "The Dark Rose" traces the history of an extended family through the reign of the Tudor King Henry VIII, allowing the events of that period to reveal themselves through the characters "below stairs"....the lookers-on rather than the protagonists of historical events. Nanette, reared in the household of Katherine Parr, is Lady in waiting first in the Boleyn family and eventually to Henry's last Queen; through her eyes and womanly sympathies, we can stand in the shoes of these, and the other wives whose lives were sacrificed to the need for a male heir to the throne, and through her eyes we not only see many sides of their husband, but also we understand clearly the absolute need for his actions. This is a book in which any reader can lose the 21st Century, and live entirely in the 16th.
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