In 1586, Elizabeth I has ruled for twenty-eight years, and she's survived every plot that could be thrown against her. However, when she learns that Philip II has discovered a very closely guarded secret and intends to use it in an attempt to turn England into a vassal of Spain, Elizabeth knows that she's going to need every ounce of her courage and cunning to come out ahead.
Tucked away in a castle in Andorra in 2018, Dr. Perdita Rivers and her twin sister Piper are slowly uncovering Elizabeth I's secret piece by piece and clue by clue. What they learn stuns them: Elizabeth was not the last of the Tudor line-- there are two more legitimate heirs to the throne. With powerful people wanting them dead, the only thing that will keep these two sisters alive is letting the truth be known.
Alexandra Walsh's The Catherine Howard Conspiracy was a surprise hit for me back in March. I loved the author's portrayal of Henry VIII and her alternate history involving the life of his fifth wife, Catherine Howard. This second book in the Marquess House trilogy continues her feminist "revision" of history, this time with the redoubtable Elizabeth I.
In The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy, some of the threat against the Rivers sisters is taken care of, but other-- possibly even deadlier-- foes arise to take their place. Passed down to female heirs only, Marquess House is a wonderful centuries-old manor house that has been turned into a treasure trove of historical documents and research. The author uses this setting as well as holes in the historical record to create her alternate history. It has to be the feminist in me, but I really enjoyed Walsh's portrayal of Elizabeth I, who (more than once) laments, "It is a curse to be surrounded by idiot men." She and her trusted ladies-in-waiting are intelligent and brave-- more than a match for the "idiot men" of Elizabeth's cabinet.
After reading several biographies of Elizabeth I, I've often thought that she must've hated the fact that she constantly had to prove herself to the men in her cabinet, men who usually had their own interests and agendas they wanted to promote. It's no wonder that I enjoy Walsh's feminist interpretation of history. Who's to say that some of what Walsh postulates isn't true? After all, for centuries 99.9% of women have been thought to be too unimportant to be included in the historical record. But I digress.
For the most part, I've willingly suspended disbelief and "gone along for the ride" wherever Walsh wanted to take me, but I have to admit that my credulity was strained a couple of times in this latest book. For one thing-- the fact that all those secret coded messages between Elizabeth and her ladies still survive? The Tudor period was deadly, and not just to Henry VIII's wives. The nagging thought that those messages would have been destroyed almost immediately just wouldn't go away. The second strain involves something that happened to Elizabeth herself, but I can't go into detail because of spoilers.
However, my credulity was strained, not destroyed, and I look forward with a great deal of anticipation to the last book in this intriguing trilogy. I want to see how this all ends!
The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh
Sapere Books © 2019
eBook, 399 pages
Thriller, #2 Marquess House trilogy
Source: Net Galley