Cover Reveal: MARY –Tudor Princess by Tony Riches

New on Amazon UK Amazon US and Amazon AU

About the Book 

Mary Tudor PrincessFrom the author of the international best-selling Tudor Trilogy, the true story of the Tudor dynasty continues with the daughter of King Henry VII, sister to King Henry VIII. Mary Tudor watches her elder brother become King of England and wonders what the future holds for her.

Born into great privilege, Mary has beauty and intelligence beyond her years and is the most marriageable princess in Europe. Henry plans to use her marriage to build a powerful alliance against his enemies. Will she dare risk his anger by marrying for love?

Meticulously researched and based on actual events, this ‘sequel’ follows Mary’s story from book three of the Tudor Trilogy and is set during the reign of King Henry VIII.

About the Author

Tony Riches

Tony Riches is a full-time author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the fifteenth century, with a particular interest in the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the early Tudors. For more information about Tony’s other books please visit his website and his popular blog, The Writing Desk and find him on Facebook and Twitter.




Mary – Tudor Princess

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Characters in Motion with Janet Wertman

I’d like to welcome Janet Wertman to Layered Pages today. Janet is taking part in my characters in Motion series and talks with us about her earliest draft of Jane the Quene. Be sure to check out her links below and click on her website to learn more about her.


Janet WertmanFirst, let me thank you for this series and the opportunity to discuss Characters in Motion. It was a fun exercise for me – especially since it was a topic I struggled with. I didn’t get to create the story from my characters, I had to create my characters from the story…and likable ones at that!

My debut novel, Jane the Quene, is the story of Jane Seymour, the third wife for whom Henry VIII executed Anne Boleyn. A lot of people know the basic facts, and virtually all of them are Team Anne.  But there is a way to tell Jane’s story that highlights its natural poignancy. That’s the story I wanted to tell, the one that would give Jane a team of her own – or at least acceptance.

The earliest drafts of the novel failed to do that. I wanted to make sure I got the story factually right, so I established my markers – very specific dates on which things happened – and I filled in the characters based on how they were reported to have acted at that time (I did have some wiggle room thanks to conflicting reports from inconsistent chroniclers, which let me pick and choose from a tapestry of stories that many had heard before, and reinterpret them in the way that felt right to me). As my writing books suggested, I told each scene from the point of view of the person most impacted in it …but that led to me giving voices to eight people – Jane, Henry, Edward, Cromwell, Anne Boleyn, Anne Seymour, even Mary. Jane’s voice and experience were lost, and the story was flat.

Then I found a great developmental editor who told me that I needed to forget the objective story and make it all about Jane’s personal experience. I could keep my timeline but I had to drastically cut the POVs. She originally suggested keeping only Jane’s voice, but I knew I needed a second someone to tell the other side of the story, someone who could detail the actual plotting that was taking place. Cromwell was the perfect choice – he was another vilified character with a poignant story (though the poignancy does not emerge until the close of this book), and he allowed me to reveal more of Henry (Jane saw him as good, Cromwell saw him as evil).


From there, everything just fell into place. Since everything I wanted to say had to be filtered through Jane or Cromwell, I found myself showing more and telling less. Making each scene unfold slowly, with sensory details to anchor it. This was fiction after all and I was able to layer in the imagined private moments of Jane’s journey.  The September 1535 meeting in the gardens, the April 1536 hunting trip where Jane learns that Anne will die…these were the key pieces of the narrative. Invented, but still loosely based on facts (like the fact that Henry loved concocting medicines…the fact that hunting involved unmaking the deer and sharing the “good” organs on the spot…).  I had almost free rein with these, except for one particular pivotal scene: The December 1536 confluence of two blessed events (Mary’s return to court, London gathering on the frozen Thames to cheer on the royal procession to church) with two tragic ones (Jane’s father dying and another miscarriage). Luckily, everything worked (assuming a relatively speedy messenger!).

I’m finding the same challenges in the sequel: I am currently working on The Path to Somerset, which is the story of Edward Seymour (another vilified character with a poignant story…I have a pattern!) during the second three-set of Henry’s wives (Henry’s crazy years). Jane was about morality, Somerset is about power and risk. I am really enjoying getting to motivation in between the things we know happened…though I have to say I look forward to the editing process as I already know some places to be smoothed out a bit!

Janet Wertman

Author Links:


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For more information on Janet and her book Jane the Quene, go to her wonderful website, where she blogs on Tudor history.

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Jane’s Twitter (yes, she has her own – and tweets different stuff than I do!):



Be sure to check out Nancy Bilyeau’s  interview with Janet!





Characters in Motion with Wendy J. Dunn

Often times the best inspiration comes within us. How do you flesh out your characters to drive the plot?

How do I flesh out my characters to drive my plots?  I could answer this very simply, by saying inspiration, of course, is the key to all my writing, but to answer this truthfully, I must talk about the real key unlocking this inspiration, a story beginning on the day of my tenth birthday. That day, a school friend gave me a child’s book of English history and changed my life forever. At ten, I desperately needed a hero, a guiding light to help me navigate through those difficult growing up years. Because of a chapter in this book, Elizabeth I became my first hero; my search to know more about her introduced me to my second hero, her mother, Anne Boleyn. They both gave me examples of strong and determined women – women who claimed their voices and true identities in a time when women were told to be silent and remember their inferiority.

Dear Heart How Like You This

As a child and teenager, I was also told to be silent and that my worth did not equal that of the males in my world. I was told it was a waste of time to educate girls. Learning about Anne and Elizabeth taught me otherwise. Their stories were the beginning of my understanding that I was not the one at fault, but my world – a world where I learned not only to navigate my ‘woman’s life’ but also one mapped out by patriarchy.

My interest in Elizabeth I and Anne Boleyn soon grew to embrace the whole Tudor period, and grew into a passion turning me into a writer. I not only hold Elizabeth and Anne responsible for my two Anne Boleyn novels (Dear Heart, How Like You This? and The Light in the Labyrinth), Falling Pomegranate Seeds: Duty of Daughters, the first book my Katherine of Aragon trilogy, a novel I hope to see published this year, but also my doctorate.

While my novels are shaped through vast research, I am first and foremost a writer of fiction. My stories are initially ignited by research and then imagined, or dreamed, onto the page. This ‘dreaming’ draws from the compost of my own life experience, which makes me empathise with my characters, especially that of my female characters; this empathy helps me flesh them out. My human experience, faced as a woman, is one common to all humanity: I have experienced rejection, sorrow, love. I have also known what is to hate, but if there is one thing my life has taught me, it is hate gets us nowhere. Writing has been a wonderful tool to help me let go of hate. I don’t even hate Henry VIII. One of the reasons I revisited Anne Boleyn’s story in The Light in the Labyrinth was because I wanted to be more fair to him. I don’t like him, but I don’t hate him; writing Kate Carey’s story helped me to pity him.

I once heard the very lovely and talented Australian author Sophie Masson say, ‘A writer is a lifelong learner’. How true that is; writers learn from observing and thinking about their world. When we write, our thinking goes to another, far, far deeper level. This deep place is where magic happens, through the writer’s engagement with imagination – a magic that builds a bridge between the writer and the reader. But it is more than this. Every time I embark on a new, novel writing adventure, I rediscover the truth of Kundera’s claim that creating a novel ignites a catalyst for change (2006).

The Light in the Labyrinth

For me, this catalyst of change not only happens through the practice of writing, but also through engagement with stories of women from long ago. It is by telling these stories, I realize, yet again, what being a feminist is all about – and how all my writing comes from my standpoint as a woman. Reclaiming the voices of women of the past illuminates for me that the battle for gender equality is one not won – and that women (and men) must keep fighting to achieve it. Women of the first world must fight not only for ourselves, but also for our sisters who live in oppressive cultures where women and female babies are killed because they are regarded as worthless and replaceable. This fight is not one to be won through violence – but through the education of both girls and boys. It is my hope that by giving voice to Tudor women through the construction of fiction, young adult women will engage with my stories and reflect about the possibilities for their own lives.

It goes without saying, despite the passing of hundreds of years since the last Tudor monarch drew her final breath, patriarchy still rules our world. I feel deeply about my historical women. It breaks my heart to think of how Anne and Katherine of Aragon ended their lives – simply because the man they loved had the power to destroy them. It breaks my heart that this still happens in 2016. Last year, in Australia, two women a week were murdered by someone who once professed to love them. The majority of the murderers were men. It is one of the greatest tragedies of our time that there are men who see their female partners and children as possessions – possessions they have the right to destroy.

I flesh out my characters through passion. I’m passionate about giving my historical women voices – not only because they were too often silenced and refused justice during their lives, but because giving them voices also gives me a voice.

I live in hope if enough women speak up about their lives then we might yet discover the truth of Muriel Rukeyser’s words: ‘What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open’ (Cited by Gandolfo  2008, p 142).

 Smile, I hear again my imagined Anne Boleyn speaking in my mind, telling me she would like the final word:

Defiled is my name full sore

Through cruel spite and false report,

That I may say for evermore,

Farewell, my joy! Adieu comfort!

For wrongfully ye judge of me

Unto my fame a mortal wound,

Say what ye list, it will not be,

Ye seek for that can not be found.”


Gandolfo, E  2008, ‘Feminist Fictionmaking’, New Writing, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 140-149.

Kundera, M  2003, The Art of the Novel, Reprint Edition, Harper, Perennial Modern Classics, New York.

Wendy Dunn

Wendy J. Dunn is an Australian writer who has been obsessed by Anne Boleyn and Tudor History since she was ten-years-old. She is the author of two Tudor novels: Dear HeartHow Like You This?, the winner of the 2003 Glyph Fiction Award and 2004 runner up in the Eric Hoffer Award for Commercial Fiction, and The Light in the Labyrinth, her first young adult novel. Her third Tudor novel, Falling Pomegranate Seeds, will be published with Madeglobal sometime in 2016.

While she continues to have a very close and spooky relationship with Sir Thomas Wyatt, the elder (Tom told the story of Anne Boleyn in Dear HeartHow Like You This?), serendipity of life now leaves her no longer wondering if she has been channeling Anne Boleyn and Sir Tom for years in her writing, but considering the possibility of ancestral memory. Her own family tree reveals the intriguing fact that her ancestors – possibly over three generations – had purchased land from both the Boleyn and Wyatt families to build up their own holdings. It seems very likely Wendy’s ancestors knew the Wyatts and Boleyns personally.

Born in Melbourne, Australia, Wendy is married and the mother of three sons and one daughter—named after a certain Tudor queen, surprisingly, not Anne.

After successfully completing her MA (Writing) at Swinburne University Wendy became a tutor for the same course. She gained her PhD (Human Society) in 2014.




*All reviews, interviews, guest posts and promotions are original works of the people involved. In order to use any part of the material from this site, please ask for permission from Stephanie M. Hopkins-Layered Pages. *

City of Ladies by Sarah Kennedy

Sarah Kennedy's Book Cover

Expected publication: October 14th 2014 by Knox Robinson Publishing

Catherine Havens has found herself in a unique position as a married former nun.  She seems to have beaten all of the odds against her and now has possession of the home lost by her mother’s family.  She has a husband and two children, a boy to inherit the property and an infant daughter.  But her husband’s aspirations run to the court, and he determines to get his wife a place with the king’s cast-off daughters.  The younger, Protestant Elizabeth is his target, and to have Catherine in service to her seems to be the realization of his dreams.

But Mary Tudor is still alive and well—and her submission to her father remains a question.  Her presence does not jeopardize Catherine—until she appears at Hatfield House and claims the loyalty to the Roman Catholic faith that still pulls at Catherine’s heart.

Catherine Havens still loves learning.  She loves reading and healing.  She loves her husband and her children.  But she also still loves her old faith, which is now embodied in the person of the king’s older daughter.

What choice does she have—to defy her husband and lose her children and her home?  Or defy the king’s daughter and lose her true self?”

Sarah Kennedy

Sarah Kennedy is the author of The Cross and the Crown series from Knox Robinson Publishers. She has published seven books of poems and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, and a Virginia Commission for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship.

Sarah Kennedy


My Guest Author Judith Arnopp

Henry Tudor – the infant prince by Judith Arnopp

We are used to thinking of Henry as obese, ailing, suspicious and vindictive but he wasn’t always so. We know from contemporary descriptions of him that in his youth he was athletic, talented and cordial; a perfect example of a Renaissance prince. I have discussed in previous posts the degeneration that took place during Henry’s mid-life resulting in the ‘monster-king’ we know and love, but today I’d like to go further back to Henry’s infancy. There are many questions I want to address. What sort of child was he? Did his upbringing have any bearing on the king he was to become? Or did his childhood relationships with women impact upon the way he treated the women he was to encounter as an adult? And to what extent did the constant rebellion that affected his father’s reign impact upon Henry’s crushing need to produce a male heir?

picture 1 J

Henry was born at the Palace of Placentia in Greenwich on 28th June 1491. He was the third child of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. As second son he was never intended for the throne; that honour was to go to his older brother, Arthur, a boy who, as far as we can tell, resembled his father both in looks and manner. Henry was more like his maternal grandfather, the giant, bright haired Yorkist king, Edward IV. This likeness seems to have been more than just physical and in several aspects the lives of the two kings bear similarities; both married for love, both shared a love of fine cuisine and both were subject to violent outbreaks of temper.

Like most royal children Henry’s early life was governed by women. While Arthur, as heir to the throne, was given his own extravagant male orientated household at Ludlow, Henry shared a nursery with his sister Margaret, and later his other siblings joined them. It was a world of women, very different to that of his brother. Henry’s wet nurse, Anne Uxbridge, provided nourishment in his early years while his two rockers, Margaret Droughton and Frideswide Puttenham, saw to his other comforts. As Elizabeth of York continued to dutifully fill the royal nursery, the role of ‘lady mistress of our nursery’ was bestowed upon Elizabeth Denton who served in the queen’s household long after the children had outgrown their need of her.

This team of women who cared for the royal infants should not suggest that Elizabeth kept her children at arm’s length. In fact Elizabeth seems to have been exceptionally close to her younger children. With Arthur far from court and growing up almost a stranger, she took an active role in the upbringing of his siblings. David Starkey suggests that Henry’s handwriting is so similar to his mother’s that it can only indicate she had a hand in their early education too.

The nursery at Eltham was next door to Elizabeth’s favourite palace of Greenwich and that had connections with her own royal father, Edward IV. As David Starkey points out in his book,Henry, the prince who would turn tyrant, at this point Edward IV had only been dead for a decade and the palace staff would have known and remembered him, and perhaps some ‘items of his household stuff were still in use.’ (Starkey. p. 69)

It is widely accepted that Elizabeth was fond of her father and it is very likely he would have featured in the stories she told of her childhood. Whether Henry VII liked it or not, growing up in his grandfather’s palace, with his grandfather’s possessions and staff around him, the young Henry could not help but be aware of him, and influenced in some degree by his memory.

At his mother’s knee Henry heard the tales of old, of knights and battle, chivalry and romance. He learned the importance of treating maidens gently and your foe mercilessly. The stories he heard at this time would influence him for the remainder of his life. Henry always aspired to being a knight like the men of old. Even as late as 1542 when he was growing old and infirm, he gamely donned his armour, climbed onto to his charger and rode off to war with France for his ‘second Agincourt.’

As Henry grew from infancy into a small boy new siblings arrived, and some departed. When Henry was just four years old his sister, Elizabeth, who had blossomed briefly into his life died suddenly in September 1495 aged just three years old. What affect this loss of a playmate may have had is impossible to say. Childhood death was commonplace in Tudor England but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t difficult. As humans we never get used to death. Henry would have missed her. He and Margaret might have been lonely. It was his first brush with death and the loss perhaps made him wonder and worry a little. In 1496 Elizabeth’s place in the nursery was filled by another sister, Mary and a brother, Edmund followed in 1499. Sadly, like Elizabeth, Edmund did not survive for long but Mary has long been regarded as Henry’s ‘favourite’ sister. The lesson Henry learned from this was that childhood was dangerous – sons and daughters could be lost. His father, beset by rebellion, was made more insecure by the loss of each child; Henry must have noticed this and soon, the lesson would become further ingrained.

In 1491 a man claiming to be the younger son of Edward IV arrived on the scene. We now know him by the name of Perkin Warbeck and it is widely accepted that he was an imposter, a base born son of Edward IV, or perhaps someone who just happened to bear a family likeness. Regardless of who he was, Henry VII seems to have been rattled by his claim. Warbeck had the backing of France, Burgundy and Scotland; the powers of Europe were ranged against the unstable claim of Tudor and the king had plenty of reasons to be worried. England was home to many supporters of York; men who would go to any lengths to reinstate the old Plantagenet line. Some would even go so far as to accept an imposter. The fact that the king was so unsettled by Warbeck’s claims could suggest that he had no idea if the princes of York were living or dead.

In order to marry Elizabeth Henry repealed the act, titulus regius, that had made her and her brothers illegitimate and allowed the crown to pass to their uncle, Richard III. In reversing the act, legitimising his wife and turning Richard into a usurper, he also made the missing princes (if indeed they were still alive) legitimate also. In validating their blood, he also validated their claim to the throne …before himself. Imposter or not, neither Henry nor Elizabeth welcomed the return of a son of York this late in the game; as much as Elizabeth may have loved her brothers, she was queen now and in all probability, would have wanted the crown to pass to her own son, Arthur.

It was time for the Tudors to show their trump card; their two strong, healthy, legitimate sons. In an unspoken yet eloquent declaration Henry bestowed many of the titles that had belonged to the younger York prince, Richard of Shrewsbury (whom Warbeck was claiming to be), onto Henry. This action spoke louder than any words. The Princes of York are gone but, in their place, here are my sons; the princes of the house of Tudor.

Starkey says, ‘Henry’s creation and endowment as duke of York marked his entry into his inheritance as a prince of the blood. It also made the rivalry with Warbeck evident and unescapable. ‘The dukedom (of York)’ one of Henry’s future servants, Sir William Thomas, asserted flatly, ‘belongs to the king of England’s second son.’ Only force would determine which of the rival dukes would possess it.” (Starkey, P. 103)

The extravagant formalities that made the young Henry a royal duke were his first introduction to ceremonial bling and began a love affair with pageantry that would last his whole lifetime.

Henry VII had spent his youth in a similar vein to that of Warbeck. He was exiled, unsure whom he could trust, the future a dark unfathomable void. He would either become king or die in the attempt. The king knew only too well how tenuous the counterfeit prince’s survival was. Henry VII sent spies far and wide trying to capture him, made constant attempts to persuade or bribe Warbeck’s supporters to hand him over. And during this time he also continued to parade his legitimate sons in the face of Warbeck’s on-going claims. The situation dragged on until 1497, when Prince Henry was six years old, and the Cornish, fed up with Henry’s taxation laws, rose up in favour of Warbeck against the king. While Warbeck rode south with Scottish troops, the Cornish marched on Black Heath from the west, throwing the royal family into panic.

picture 2 J

While the king called his men to arms, Elizabeth of York fled with her children to the safety of the Tower. Just as in her youth, during the wars of the roses, when she was forced to take refuge with her mother in the Tower and later in sanctuary at Westminster, she must have been afraid and vulnerable, the future uncertain. She had no way of knowing the outcome and she could not be convinced that her husband would triumph. Her overriding fear must have been that her own children might shortly join the ranks of her missing brothers. The walls of the Tower were thick impenetrable stone, she was as safe from physical danger as it was possible to be, but the memories, if not the ghosts, of her brothers, must have cried out to her from the shadows. Her children must have sensed those fears and been terrified too.

Luckily for Henry, Warbeck was captured and thrown into the Tower, (eventually to be beheaded on dubious charges that warrant another blog post) the rebels were punished and the royal family resumed their lives. The King and his council continued to govern, Elizabeth continued to oversee the upbringing of her children and Henry and his sisters continued with their education.

Henry’s first teacher was John Skelton, a poet and philosopher under whose instruction Henry’s fertile mind flourished. In 1499 the Dutch scholar Erasmus and his friend Thomas More visited the nine-year-old prince at his home in Eltham. Erasmus remarked afterwards on Henry’s ‘dignity of mind’ and ‘courtesy,’ and it seems the prince was not slow in coming forward either.

When Thomas More made a gift of a literary composition to Henry, Erasmus was embarrassed not to have anything of his own to offer. He was angry with More for not warning him that an offering was expected. The oversight did not go unnoticed and afterwards at dinner, the young Henry issued the scholar a challenge to write something for him. Erasmus spent the next three days hastily composing one hundred and fifty three lines of verse dedicated to the prince. (Erasmus’ Prescription for Henry VIII) The incident began a correspondence and friendship that was to last many years.

On 14th November 1501 a great royal wedding took place between the Prince of Wales, Arthur, and the Spanish princess, Catherine of Aragon. The couple had been betrothed since they were three years old but it was only now, with Warbeck no longer a threat, that they were considered of an age to marry. The wedding took place at St Pauls and it was Henry who led the princess ‘from the Bishop’s Palace, across the churchyard of St Paul’s, through the west doors and along the elevated walkway to the wedding platform.’ (Starkey p 144) Then, after the ceremony, he led her back again to be united with her husband at the door of the bridal chamber.

picture 3 J

A week of great ceremony followed during which time Henry VII held a Friday evening entertainment in Westminster hall. The Prince of Wales danced with his aunt, Lady Cecily, and then it was Henry’s turn to dance with his sister, Margaret. He led her formally by the hand, bowed to the audience and proceeded to follow the steps. “But now Henry stepped out of the script. Finding that his heavy clothes got in the way of his fun, he ‘suddenly cast off his gown’ – which had been obtained at much expense – and ‘danced in his jacket’ with his sister. His parents looked on proudly and indulgently.”(Starkey: p.146)

This is the first recorded sign we have of the joy loving figure Henry would become and the picture of the chubby ten year old prince dancing in his shirt sleeves is an endearing one. The boy took a risk but it was a calculated one. He knew it was breaking the rules but he also knew there was nothing his father could do to prevent it – not until later when the revel was over. Unfortunately the king’s response to this breach of etiquette is not recorded but it is the first indication that Henry was the sort of boy to go his own way. For several weeks after the wedding great joy was held throughout the kingdom, but the joy was not to last. In less than five months, Arthur, the Prince of Wales, was dead, Catherine of Aragon was widowed and the king and queen were devastated.

The death of his older brother marked a great change for Henry. No longer the second son his status was drastically altered; his life never to be the same again. Henry, Duke of York, second son of an unpopular monarch was now thrust into global prominence. But, having lacked the strict male upbringing of his older brother, Henry was not ready to be Prince of Wales, and he was certainly not ready to be king. He had a lot to learn and he would have to learn quickly.

Henry VII and Elizabeth were plunged into deep mourning. Records tell us that their grief was profound, Elizabeth was summoned to the king’s chamber to comfort him and she is reported to have reminded her husband that they were lucky to have in Henry another ‘fair and goodly prince,’ and that they were yet young enough to have other children.

There is some suggestion that sexual relations between the two had ceased sometime previous to Arthur’s death but necessity brought them together again and, as good as her word, Elizabeth quickly fell pregnant. Since the day she became Henry’s queen, cementing the union of York and Lancaster and end the wars of the roses once and for all, Elizabeth had done her duty and never put a foot wrong. Now, if she could give the king another son, the Tudors would be secure again with, to use Starkey’s term both ‘an heir and a spare.’ But before the year was out Henry’s mother was gone, she died on 2nd February 1503 shortly after giving birth to a daughter, Katherine; a little girl who followed her mother to the grave a few days later.

Picture 4 J

From now on the king, unnerved by grief and beset by increasing insecurity, was to keep his heir close. During the last years of his father’s life Henry was seldom seen in public. The Spanish ambassador was to remark that the prince was, “never permitted to go out of the palace, except for exercise through a private door leading to the park. At these times he is surrounded only by those persons especially appointed by the king as his tutors and companions and no one else, on his life, dared approach him. He takes his meals alone and spends most of the day in his own room, which has no other entrance other than through the King’s bed chamber. He is in complete subjection to his father and grandmother and never opens his mouth in public except to answer a question from one of them.” (Hutchinson p. 95)

For a boy like Henry; outgoing, active and physically agile, this virtual imprisonment must have been hell and possibly exacerbated the grief he was no doubt suffering for the loss of his mother. An illustration in a book of illumination discovered a short time ago in the National Library of Wales depicts the aftermath of Elizabeth of York’s death. The king, dressed in mourning, is being offered a book and, in the background his daughters, Margaret and Mary, are wearing black veils. Somewhat apart from the others, a young boy with red hair weeps onto his mother’s empty bed. It is a picture of segregation and solitude; a sad, heart wrenching illustration of a formerly ebullient prince.

1503 marks the end of Henry’s childhood. The future yawns wide and empty before him. His childhood with its stories of chivalry, the warm nurturing presence of his mother and nursery staff is unreachable. He cannot return to the time of joy that went before. In a short time he has lost his brother and his mother and been thrust from a fairly predictable future as a royal Duke into the terror of the unknown trials of monarchy.

Henry’s early status of ‘second in line to the throne’ would impact upon every aspect of his upbringing and it was perhaps this early need to play second fiddle that fed his later desire to be centre stage. Nobody, least of all Henry, knew what sort of king he would make but his early lessons stayed with him. Henry would continually seek the unconditional love he’d known from his mother in his early years; he would strive and fail to become the perfect renaissance prince that his early teachers, Skelton, Erasmus and More had impressed upon him; and he would also strive and fail to fill the royal nursery with sons as his father would have wished.

picture 5 J

“Laughing child, possibly Henry VIII, c.1498. Possibly commissioned by or presented to Henry VII. Guido Mazzoni“from the royal collection.

Link to manuscript of young henry here

Link to Perkin Warbeck here

Link to Henry meeting Erasmus and More here

Link to Henry VII and Elizabeth here

Further reading

Erasmus’ Prescription for Henry VIII: Logotherapy Marjorie O’Rourke Boyle Renaissance Quarterly Vol. 31, No. 2 (Summer, 1978), pp. 161-172)

Young Henry: The Rise of Henry VIII By Robert Hutchinson

Henry, The Prince who would turn Tyrant, David Starkey

Winter King, The Dawn of Tudor England, Thomas Penn

Judith Arnopp

Judith Arnopp is the author of six historical novels. The first three are set early in the historical calendar in Anglo Saxon and Norman Britain, the last three in Tudor England. She is currently working on her seventh A Song of Sixpence which tells the story of Elizabeth of York, mother of King Henry VIII.

Her books include:

Peaceweaver: set during the run up to the Battle of Hastings

The Forest Dwellers: set after the Battle of Hastings.

The Song of Heledd: set in 7th Century Powys.

The Winchester Goose: at the court of Henry VIII.

The Kiss of the Concubine: the story of Anne Boleyn

Intractable Heart: the story of Katheryn Parr

You can find out more about Judith and her work on her webpage:

Judith’s blog  

Judith’s Amazon Page UK

Judith’s Amazon page US: Amazon Page US


Interview with Author Judith Arnopp

Judith Arnopp

In 2007 Judith Arnopp graduated from the University of Wales, Lampeter with a BA in English Literature and a Masters in Medieval Studies; she now combines those skills to write historical novels.

Her early books; Peaceweaver, The Forest Dwellers and The Song of Heledd concentrated on the Anglo- Saxon/ medieval period but in 2010 she published a short pamphlet of ‘Tudor’ stories entitled, Dear Henry: Confessions of the Queens. Some people loathed it but many loved it and she received endless requests for full length ‘Tudor’ novels.

For a while Judith buried herself once more in study, refreshing her already extensive knowledge of the period. The result was The Winchester Goose, the story of a prostitute from Southwark called Joanie Toogood whose harsh existence is contrasted with that of Henry’s fourth and fifth wives, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard. The Winchester Goose is a multi-narrative illustrating Tudor life from several, very different perspectives; a prostitute, a Spy, and a Lady-in-Waiting at the royal court.

Judith’s next book The Kiss of the Concubine details the life of Anne Boleyn, told in the first person- present tense, the story takes you to the very heart of England’s most talked about queen. She is currently working on a third Tudor novel Intractable Heart, the tale of Henry’s sixth and last wife, Katherine Parr.

Judith also blogs about the Tudor period, both on her own blog-page and on the English Historical Fiction Author’s website. Her work reaches a world-wide audience and her following is steadily increasing.

As a self-published author Judith maintains direct control of her work and avoids the hassle involved with agents and publishers. Self-publishing speeds up the process but accuracy and attention to detail is paramount. Her small team is made up of three proof readers, an editor, and a cover designer all of whom work with Judith toward a finished product that is as polished as they can get it, but still they seek ultimate perfection.

Stephanie: Hello Judith! Welcome to Layered Pages and thank you for chatting with me today…I think it is fantastic you have been writing stories that take place during the Tudor era. My interest lie in that area currently and your latest book, “Intractable Heart” looks fantastic! Please tell me about your story?

Judith: I have tried to imagine how it might have felt to be a woman married to Henry VIII. With five of Henry’s ex-wives before her, Katheryn must have been all too aware of what becoming queen might entail yet she faced it bravely. She put aside her own desire to marry Thomas Seymour and instead married an ageing, cantankerous and dangerous man. She injected all her energies into becoming a good wife to Henry and a good Queen Consort for England and I think she did amazingly well. I wanted to illustrate that. I am not really interested in the rich trappings, the glitz and glamour of being royal; I like to strip that all away and reveal the person beneath, her thoughts, feelings, and desires. I hope I have managed that with Intractable Heart.

Stephanie: Next to Katherine of Aragon, Katheryn Parr is one of my favorites of Henry VIII wives. What are some of the misconceptions people have about her?

Judith: While I was writing The Kiss of the Concubine I couldn’t help but be drawn into reading about the other wives. Of course, I knew about Katheryn Parr from my student days and was surprised to discover she wasn’t the placid nursemaid type figure that she’d been depicted. The woman I read about at school entirely lacked the vitality of everyone’s favourite queen, Anne Boleyn, but the deeper I looked into Katheryn’s life, the more I liked her.

She was much younger than I’d thought, only thirty six when she died. She was also a strong woman and Henry respected her enough to set her up as regent over England when he went to war with France. Katheryn also was the first English queen to become a published writer; she wrote two books on religion and the church and was a strong supporter of the reformation. The title Intractable Heart is a phrase taken from her book Lamentations of a Sinner. Another aspect of her character that really stands out for me was her ability to ‘manage’ Henry.

Judith Arnopp latest book

Stephanie: As your story opens, Katheryn and her step children are held hostage at Snape Castle. What are some of the hardships she had to endure during her confinement?

Judith: To be perfectly frank, we don’t really know very much about it. History tells us there was a siege at Snape while she and her step-children were in residence but few written details of it remain. I had to research other recorded instances to learn of the deprivations and suffering of siege warfare. There were many instances of violence but we don’t know that anything like that occurred at Snape. That is my invention, as a writer of fiction I have to include some fictionalised events to enrich the story and to illustrate character development. In this case I was creating an answer to some of the mysteries of Margaret Neville’s life. As a girl she was betrothed to Ralph Bigod whose father, Francis, was hung in the aftermath of the Pilgrimage of Grace. She was never betrothed again, or married and she died quite young of an unspecified illness. I came up with my own fictional ideas as to why that might have been.

Stephanie: Treachery ran rabid in the Tudor court, what is the one thing that made Katheryn different from the other queens?

Judith: Her intelligence I think, although I don’t mean to say that the other wives were thick. I alluded earlier to Katheryn’s ability to ‘manage’ Henry, and she was the only queen to wriggle out of arrest and possible execution. A warrant was written out and signed by Henry but she got wind of it and managed to see the king before the arrest could be made. She seems to have sweet-talked her way out of it, and when Wriothesley and the guard came to take her to the Tower, Henry sent them about their business and her life was spared. I think Katheryn had the ability to keep her emotions in check and maintain a cool head in a heated situation.

Stephanie: Many have different opinions on Thomas Seymour. Whether they like him or not. What are your personal opinions of the kind of man he was?

Judith: I have a soft spot for Thomas, it probably shows. I think, as far as I can ascertain, Seymour wasn’t as bad as he was painted. After his execution there was such a public outcry that the council had to issue defamatory statements to convince the people that his death was deserved. So anything written after his death needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

I think he probably had a good dose of ‘second son syndrome’ and was jealous of his brother’s power. He was so determined to get that which he didn’t have, that he failed to appreciate what he did possess. Lord High Admiral is not something to be scoffed at and he had manors and lands a plenty. It seems he was never satisfied and continually strove to climb higher and become ever richer and more powerful.

Whether he loved Katheryn or not is open to debate. He mourned her death and went a little crazy afterwards. His alleged relationship with Elizabeth is no worse than that of any other extra marital affair. I think we have to be careful not to judge him by modern day standards and remember that it wasn’t child abuse; Elizabeth was of marriageable age. His crime was messing with a royal princess; she was too close to the throne. I tend to agree with Elizabeth’s summing up of Thomas Seymour: ‘a man of great wit and very little judgment’, if indeed, she ever actually said that.

Stephanie: Katheryn’s work was published and she very devout in her faith. Is her work available today to the public? And what can we learn from her?

Judith: I know some of it is available because I have a copy of Brandon G. Withrow’s book, Katherine Parr: a guided tour of the life and thoughts of a reformation queen. It has excerpts and some insightful notes on her beliefs. Most of it is pretty dry reading but I think it is quite revealing of her opinions and the inner workings of her mind. If nothing else, reading her book (or skimming if I am honest) did provide an excellent and very personal title for my novel.

Stephanie:What was Henry’s daughter, Elizabeth’s relationship with Katheryn really like? I hear so many different opinions.

Judith: Well, we can never be entirely sure but I think it was very good. All Henry’s children spoke well of Katheryn and illustrated love and a consideration that there was no need to express if they hadn’t wished to. There were many letters and gifts exchanged, all of which illustrate a strong bond. There was a cooling off between Katheryn and Mary due to religion and the speed with which she remarried after the king’s death but they were reconciled later. With Elizabeth in particular, especially if the reports of her and Thomas Seymour are true, she seems to have been particularly close. We don’t know what was said in private but after Elizabeth was sent away from Chelsea they continued to communicate regularly, there doesn’t seem to have been a major breach. In my opinion this again shows she was a strong woman, able to rise above such things, or perhaps able to understand that Elizabeth was young and vulnerable. It seems to be Thomas that she was not able to wholly forgive.

She educated Henry’s children, finding eminent tutors for Edward who leaned to toward Lutherism. She tried to get Mary change her traditional methods of worship but didn’t push her. She also took Henry’s niece and Seymour’s ward, Jane Grey, under her wing. But, most interestingly of all, Elizabeth was with Katheryn during the regency and it may have been the queen who showed the young Elizabeth that women could rule alone in a world of men. Something which would stand her in very good stead.

Stephanie: What were some of the influences Katheryn had over Henry that his other wives didn’t?

Judith: She read to Henry, and soothed him when his leg was playing up; that much is true although she would never had changed his dressing or put salve on his wound as I have read in some novels. I think her ability to take his mind from his problems was her greatest influence over him.

She was also very clever. When her life was on the line, instead of weeping and wailing or tearing out her hair, she outwitted him. Accused of trying to instruct the king, she argued that on the contrary she had been trying to take his mind off his painful ulcer. The next time Henry tried to trick her into argument she claimed that, as a woman, she was in no position to argue theological topics with someone so obviously her intellectual superior. Very shrewd move.

Also, instead of resenting his children, she embraced them and showed him that, actually, the family he already had was made up of three rather brilliant people. Her influence on them was much greater than she is given credit for. In their later years they may have displayed what we see today as tendencies toward megalomania but they were monarchs, and Tudor monarchs at that. We shouldn’t judge them.

Stephanie: What is up next for you?

Judith: A holiday I hope. Even just a home break from work for a short time. I hadn’t intended to begin writing Intractable Heart until this summer but when our house sale fell through in the middle of last year, I was so miserable I buried myself in work without a proper rest after publishing The Kiss of the Concubine. I am due a lovely long luxurious break but I am sure while I am taking it I will be plotting. I have thought about Elizabeth of York and the Perkin Warbeck affair …but time will tell.

Stephanie: How has your career as a self-publishing author been and what advice could you give to others who are thinking of taking this choice in how they publish their work?

Judith: It has been hard work but it certainly got easier once I stopped looking for agents and publishers. I had an agent for a while but they all want to change you into a commercial entity. I don’t want to be a puppet; I don’t write to make huge sums of money, I just want to make a living doing the thing I love to do for the people who love my work. I like to keep it real. For me, by far the hardest thing is the marketing. I am naturally very shy and to push my work under people’s noses and make them read it is the most difficult thing ever.

Stephanie: Is there a message you would like to give to your readers?

Judith: Read an independent author, even if it is only once a month. Give them a chance. Read the free sample on Amazon before you buy it, what is there to lose? Maybe start off with trying one of mine. J

Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book?

Judith: Amazon is the best place to start, or direct from the FeedaRead website. Since I have a great regard for trees my books are print-on-demand and also available on Kindle (for a much lower price.)

Stephanie: Thank you, Judith! It has been a pleasure chatting with you today.

Judith: Thank you for having me, Stephanie, I hope we can do it again soon.

Amazon links to, “Intractable Heart.”

UK Link

US Link

Judith Arnopp’s published work includes:


The Forest Dwellers

The Song of Heledd

The Winchester Goose: at the court of Henry VIII

The Kiss of the Concubine: a story of Anne Boleyn

Dear Henry: Confessions of the Queens

A Tapestry of Time

Intractable Heart

Other Links:



Amazon Author Page

English Historical Fiction Authors

The Life of Henry VII: Part I

As many of you know, I am currently writing a story of the Tudors, titled “Poison Letters” It is an alternate story about Prince Arthur of England. The story will be told in the present time but the letters revealed in the story take you back to the Tudor dynasty. But first, in order to learn  about Arthur I felt I needed to go back a little further and learn all I could about his father, King Henry VII, also known as Henry Tudor. Going forward, as I research the Tudors, I will be writing articles on this subject and I am honored to be able to share with you some of my discoveries. I will also be writing other articles about the Tudors that you might find interesting. To start off, I would like to say from the various books I have read, I find the different opinions historians/historical fiction writers have on the subject to be compelling, and gives the reader the chance to form their own opinions of the facts and what-ifs. It gives you the perspective that history is open to interpretation and is often told by the victors or the people in power as well.

Henry VII

Henry VII

There seems to be a diverse of information about Henry VII’s life and reign. For example, some say his mother Margaret Beaufort was the only one with royal blood. Others say both his parents could claim royal ancestry. Another example, Henry VII worked hard early on in his reign to build a myth claiming to be the rightful royal heir to England. (He wasn’t the only one to take the throne by force or questionable right. A prime example of that is Cnut and William the Conqueror. But out of all three maybe Henry had more justification then the two I just mentioned. Something I look forward to exploring.) Having to basically build the monarchy in his own right-he seemed obsessed –but who could blame him– with it and later on was described as a paranoid and suspicious ruler. But we won’t start with this intriguing speculation, we need to go further back.

On his father’s side, Henry’s uncle and grandfather, Jasper and Owen Tudor were staunch supporters of the Lancastrian cause. (If you want to know more about Jasper and Owen, read about the War of The Roses. A war between 1455 and 1485, fought between rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the houses of Lancaster and York for the throne of England. Or you can check my website for upcoming articles on them as well). By the time of Henry Tudor’s birth, power of the Lancastrian monarch was slipping, making the youngest member-Henry Tudor- a valuable pawn in some dangerous games of politics. But, wait a minute, you see there, here I go again getting ahead of myself! I will stop there and take you to the time of Henry’s birth, his early childhood and his mother’s side of the family.

Lady Margaret Beaufort and Son

Margaret Beaufort who was born on May 31, 1443 or 1441 (the year of her birth is uncertain) was a direct descendant of John Beaufort, first Earl of Somerset, who was the illegitimate child of John of Gaunt- Duke of Lancaster and the third son of King Edward III. Margaret was also a key player in the War of the Roses and matriarch of the house of Tudor.

Margaret Beaufort

Margaret Beaufort

The Beauforts were tainted with illegitimate blood but were legitimized by a statute of Richard II. However, in 1407, Henry IV wrote letters confirming their legitimacy, adding that the Beauforts could not inherit the throne of England. To this day it is still in question whether the Beauforts had the right to succession or not.

Margaret was just twelve years old when she married Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond in 1455. He got her pregnant soon after. Edmund died of the plague the year after in 1456, leaving Margaret a thirteen year old widow.  On January 28, 1457, Henry Tudor was born at Pembroke castle and spent his earliest years with his mother there, under the protection of Jasper Tudor.

The pregnancy birth was traumatic for Margaret, as a result of that, she only bore one child. It is no wonder, giving birth at such a young age is incredible. It is amazing she survived.


Roughly two years before the time of Henry Tudor’s birth, Henry VI’s right to the throne was challenged by Richard Duke of York. Henry VI and Richard both laid claim to the throne as descendants of Edward III. York was respected and experienced in warfare and was considerably wealthy. Henry VI was to be considered a schizophrenic and was in and out of a depression. In 1450, Henry VI was basically useless in governing and in three years’ time was seen as unfit to rule, Richard became regent and began the work of changing the government. This did not last long, when Henry was- again- in his “right mind” so to speak, his authority was back in his hands and under the influence of his advisors. Richard feared he would be arrested for treason and in 1455 was summoned to appear before the King’s council, he began to raise an army in the north and this marked the first battle in The War of the Roses. Although, from what I am reading in my research, this conflict goes back even further.


Pembroke castle one

In 1461 Edward IV became king and Pembroke Castle fell to the Yorkist. About this time Henry was four years old. With his Uncle Jasper now in exile, a Yorkist noble Sir Henry William Herbert gained control of Henry. He was well received in Herbert’s family’s home in Southeast Wales. This however was the start of a long separation from his mother. I can imagine how painful that was for mother and son and how confusing Henry’s childhood must have been for him.

Pembroke castle two

At this time, Margaret was grown and was known to be pious, a woman with a strong mind and character. She married Henry Stafford in 1464 and moved with him to England.  I believe not by her choice but duty. Henry’s separation from his mother had to be incredibly hard for both of them. Margaret’s separation from Henry makes me wonder if she may have been angry and resentful. However, I believe (and this is purely speculation) this marriage to Stafford was the start of her being treated as a person of royal blood and maybe sparked hope in her heart that her son one day would be king and as we know this hope changed the destiny of Margaret and Henry….

So there you have it. My first installment of a series of articles on the Tudors. Now, for all you history enthusiast out there, I know I have left out a LOT of detail.  It would take several books to cover all that occurred during that time. My goal is to give a series of small overviews of what I have researched and to share some of those findings hoping that this will intrigue many of you to want to find out more. Thank you for taking the time to read my article and I hope you enjoyed it!

By Stephanie M. Hopkins

The pictures of Pembroke Castle are courtesy  of Marsha Lambert.

A few sources I researched from: The Tudors by Jane Bingham; The Tudors by G.J. Meyer; The Tudor Age by Jasper Ridley; Winter King by Thomas Penn; Elizabeth of York by Alison Weir.

Disclaimer: I checked historical facts and crossed checked, some of what I wrote is solely my opinion and speculation. For example: There are different opinions on how Edmund Tudor died. I went with what I felt was factual.

Interview with Author Elizabeth Fremantle

Elizabeth F

Elizabeth Fremantle holds a first class degree in English and an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck College London. She has contributed as a fashion editor to various publications including Vogue, Elle and The Sunday Times. QUEEN’S GAMBIT is her debut novel and is the first in a Tudor trilogy. The second novel, SISTERS OF TREASON, will be released in 2014. She lives in London.

For more about Elizabeth and her future projects see  You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Hello Elizabeth! Welcome and thank you for chatting with me today. Please tell me about your book, Queen’s Gambit. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about your story.

Elizabeth Hello to you, and thank you so much for hosting QUEEN’S GAMBIT on your blog. I’m obviously delighted that you have heard such good things about it. When you launch a first novel it’s impossible to imagine how people will react, so the lovely things people have said are a source of great joy.

QUEEN’S GAMBIT tells the story of Katherine Parr, the wife who ‘survived’ Henry VIII, describing the period from when she first catches the eye of the King until the demise of her disastrous fourth marriage. It is told from three points of view: that of Katherine Parr, her doctor Robert Huicke and her maid Dot Fownten, giving a prism of perspectives on the Tudor court at a time of great turbulence.

When did you fist become interested in this period and when did you know you wanted to write your story?

I have always enjoyed reading history and read Jean Plaidy voraciously as a child, which is when the seeds were sown for my own historical fiction. It was when I first read Stephan Zweig’s two wonderful historical biographies (of Marie Antoinette and Mary Queen of Scots) in my early twenties that my desire to discover more about the lives of women from history was born. However having studied English as a degree, I felt I wasn’t qualified to write about history. So my first (unpublished) novels were contemporary fiction but I failed to find my voice, until I decided to try my hand at writing the past. Once I began work on QUEEN’S GAMBIT everything seemed to fall into place – it was as if I’d unlocked something in myself and began to realize that much of what I had learned reading English was also history. It all comes down the study of texts.

Queens Gambit

What is some of the research you did and what fascinates you most about the royal court surrounding this story?

So much of my research is textual and there are some extraordinary biographies of Katherine Parr but I also explored renaissance etiquette books, recipe books and social histories as I felt it was of great importance to create as close to an authentic world for my characters to inhabit. I spend a great deal of time wandering around old houses and castles, trying to imagine myself back in time. A course I took in Tudor and Stuart clothing, looking at all aspects of dress, from its construction to its symbolic value, was invaluable as I have used clothing to represent the restricted lives of women in the book. Research is an on-going process and inspiration can come from the most unlikely places. A documentary series about Amish women, for example, gave me insights into the lives and beliefs of Tudor women, as they operate under some of the same social restrictions.

As for the court, it is the constant sense of impermanence and danger that I find particularly fascinating. These people, however privileged, were living on a constant knife-edge and I wanted to articulate that in QUEEN’S GAMIT.

You have certainly done a lot of research and I’m sure it’s paid off. I love visiting old homes and hope to visit castles one day. I often wonder at times how the people at court could stand it for so long and the pressure they were constantly under….

Katherine Parr is my favourite among King Henry’s wives.  What sets your book apart from others about her? And were there any challenges writing about her?

Katherine Parr was a gift in the sense that her life is a perfect narrative arc with drama, romance and ultimately tragedy. I have tried to show her as the vibrant, politically astute and intelligent woman she was, rather than the dull nursemaid that history has remembered her as. But one of the things that interested me most about her is the essential contradiction in her character, in that she, a clever, canny woman, makes a disastrous decision in the name of love. For me this is what makes her story resonate with modern women.

To be honest, I have never read another novel about Katherine Parr, only historical biographies, so I am not the person to ask about comparisons, but each novelist will have created her in her own particular way. What I have tried to do is get beneath her skin and understand how she might have thought and felt (how might it have truly felt to be the wife of such a tyrant) whilst adhering as much as possible to the historical facts as we know them.

What is the most challenge thing to write about Historical Fiction and what advice would you give someone who is considering writing in this genre?

I suppose the challenge is getting the balance of fiction and history. For me it was important to remain faithful to history but it is the inner worlds of characters that make for good fiction and creating characters, even those based on real people, is an act of imagination. I find having a restrictive framework of history to work within forces you to explore different narrative possibilities more deeply, but it can be frustrating at times. In QUEEN’S GAMBIT, for example, a main character dies half-way through the narrative – that is something I couldn’t change and had to find a way for that death to make sense within the arc of the story.

My advice is to do all your research, then set it aside and write your story without trying to pack it full of evidence of your knowledge. One of the greatest complements I have received is that QUEEN’S GAMBIT wears its research lightly.

How long did it take you to write your story? Will you write others that take place in this period?

From start to finish QUEEN’S GAMBIT took about eighteen months but it came at the end of a ten-year period of writing fiction (an MA in Creative Writing and three unpublished novels). I had said to myself that I would have to stop if I didn’t find a publisher for it. Happily it has worked out for the good and I have realized that the wilderness years all contributed to honing my skill as a writer.

I have written the second in my Tudor trilogy. SISTERS OF TREASON is out next year and is about the two younger sisters of Lady Jane Grey, a pair of girls who were born dangerously close to the throne at a time of great instability. It begins in Mary Tudor’s bloody reign but when Elizabeth comes to the throne things become increasingly difficult for the Grey girls. In SISTERS OF TREASON, though we don’t revisit any of the main characters from QUEEN’S GAMBIT we are reacquainted with some of the characters in the background, and of course the two Tudor princess, watching their rise to the throne and the consequences of this.

Tough question. What are your thoughts on the Reformation and how the Church of England was established?

I find it impossible to have a straightforward opinion on this because in many ways the Reformation was a force for good, in that it counteracted a deeply corrupt Catholic church and offered ordinary people a way to think, read and learn about faith in a personal and intimate way. Some of the violent acts perpetrated in the name of religious reform though, were unconscionable. But then again religion and politics were inextricably linked in those days and faith was used as a means to control people. You only have to think of the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition or the 280 odd Reformers who were burned in Mary Tudor’s reign to understand that terrible things were done in the name of both Catholicism and reform, but such acts were political at heart. It does make me deeply sad though, when I visit the ruins of the great monasteries and abbeys in England and wonder about the violent erasure of a tradition that had persisted for centuries and all the beauty and tradition that was lost forever.

I agree with you. How often do you get a chance to read for pleasure and what is the name of the book you have just read?

All reading is a pleasure for me, even if it is work, but I am on holiday at the moment, with a stack of novels on my Kindle to read without having to make notes.  The book I am reading today is Blood Royal by Vanora Bennett, about Catherine de Valois and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

Are you a paperback or r-reader sort-of gal?

Elizabeth: I have a reader for convenience and for reading when I’m traveling but I do prefer a good paperback if I’m honest.

Same here. I love my e-readers but prefer a paperback. Do you write reviews for all the books you read?

If there were time enough…

Also, if I particularly enjoy a book I often want to share that with other people even if it’s just via a Tweet. I don’t think wholly negative reviews are helpful, unless there is something very specific to say. But then I’m a writer so I would think that.

Where is your favourite reading/writing spot in your home?

I have a study, filled to the gunnels with books and I sit at my desk beside the window to write, with my dogs by my side to keep my company. As for reading, my favourite place is in bed, in the morning!

Stephanie: I to have my desk by the window. It’s a beautiful spot to write. There is a beautiful Maple Tree right outside my window and just beyond that great big Holly Bushes….and love all my books around me and my dog loves to sit beside me when writing.

 Elizabeth it was a pleasure chatting with you! Thank you!


Review: The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau

the chalice

Nancy Bilyeau is building a solid series with her second book centered around Joanna Stafford, a novice who is forced to build a new life for herself after the dissolution of Dartford Priory. While the first book was very good, The Chalice is brimming with even more intrigue and insight into the clash of religion and state during the tumultuous reign of Henry VIII.

Bilyeau is able to bring the great struggle to life through her creation of conflicted characters trying to maintain their principles and beliefs in a time that is at best confused and at worst at odds with the wish of her heroine to live a simple life of devotion. The author’s scholarship is evident in the vivid detail and entwined plot lines of the story.

This last book has left me even more interested to see what will become of Joanna Stafford as she follows a tenuous path through the upheaval of her personal life in the political landscape.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Peterson Seidle

Layered Pages Review Team Member