Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: ‘Hamnet’ by Maggie O’Farrell

Although set only a few years before the seventeenth century, Hamnet is well worth a review on this website. It has been an enormously successful novel and I was intrigued about it since I first heard about it. As many know, William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire, married Anne Hathaway, and the couple had three children:… Read on

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Book review: ‘My Queen, My Love’ by Elena Maria Vidal

This is the first novel I’ve read by E.M. Vidal, although I’ve known her on social media for several years now. With ‘My Queen, My Love’, the first in her trilogy of Henrietta Maria, E.M. Vidal has brought Henrietta Maria’s passion and character to life with remarkable skill. I take my hat off to her for having the… Read on

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Book Review: Wentworth Woodhouse: The House, the Estate and the Family

Happy New Year, gentle readers! Published in May 2021 by Pen & Sword History, Wentworth Woodhouse: The House, The Estate, & The Family by Melvyn Jones, Joan Jones, and Stephen Cooper, is a readable and well-researched overview of the history of one of Britain’s great houses. Although there are twelve chapters, this book is a slim volume, which… Read on

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Book Review: ‘The Guardian’ by Maeve Greyson

Sometimes we need a bit of escapism and, for me, that sometimes means a romance—and this book totally fit the bill. I have to be honest, I wasn’t really interested in the beginning, but that might just be down to me not being in the right frame of mind for it. I even thought about giving up around… Read on

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Book Review: ‘The White Ship’ by Charles Spencer

I do not usually review books that are not about the 17th-century or the Stuart period, but given that this author has written several important works about the Stuart period, I thought I might make an exception this time (and that you’ll forgive me for doing so). I know I’m not the only historian who was surprised when… Read on

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Book Review: ‘Legacy’ by John Pilkington

The Gunpowder Plot is one of those major subjects of the early Stuart era (the Jacobean period) that people tend to know about, but, in my experience, very few historical fiction works focus on the period just after that. In John Pilkington’s novel ‘Legacy’, however, we meet Robert Belstrang, a former Justice who leads a quiet life in… Read on

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Book Review: ‘The Imprisoned Princess” by Catherine Curzon

When Queen Anne died in 1714, her throne should have passed to her younger brother, James (son of James II of England & VII of Scotland and Mary of Modena). But since James was a Catholic and the Act of Settlement of 1701 (during the reign of William III) cut all Catholics out of the line of succession,… Read on

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Book Review: The Firefly Witch by Amanda Hughes

I’ve had The Firefly Witch on my bookshelf since it was published a few years ago and I finally had a chance to read it – and I’m glad I did. Set in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1662, we meet Circe: a red-haired girl with an amazing skill for weaving. Despite her talents, she doesn’t fit in… Read on

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Book Review: ‘The World of Isaac Newton’ by Toni Mount

Isaac Newton is one of the most well-known personages of the Stuart and Georgian periods due to his towering intellect and his role with the Royal Society. When we think of those amazingly multi-talented Stuart people, Newton is definitely one of them. Toni Mount, the prolific author of The Sebastian Foxley Medieval Murder Mystery series of books, is… Read on

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Book Review: ‘Royal Mistress’ by Patricia Campbell Horton

‘Royal Mistress’ by Patricia Campbell Horton follows the story of Barbara Villiers from her adolescence, her passionate relationship with her first love, Philip Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield, through her marriage to Roger Palmer, her notorious reign as Charles II’s long-term mistress, through Charles’s marriage to Catherine of Braganza, her rivalry with Frances Stuart, up to her becoming Duchess… Read on

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Book Review: ‘Mistresses’ by Linda Porter

Mistresses: Sex and Scandal at the Court of Charles II, written by historian Linda Porter and published by Picador in 2020, is the second book on the Stuarts of the seventeenth century by Dr Porter, the first being, Royal Renegades: The Children of Charles I and the English Civil Wars. Porter previously wrote several books on Tudor history,… Read on

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Book Review: ‘The Bitter Trade’ by Piers Alexander

I came across a Facebook post by historical fiction author Kate Quinn recently in which she wrote: ‘sometimes we come across books at the wrong time. We’re in the wrong mood for a particular book at a particular time, or we’re at the wrong age for it. But we find it later and –chef’s kiss– perfection’. This quote… Read on

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Book Review: ‘The Tragic Daughters of Charles I’ by Sarah-Beth Watkins

Far more has been written about the sons of King Charles I and his queen, Henrietta Maria, than about the daughters who were born of the couple—perhaps understandably, since both Charles and James became kings. But with such works as Lady Katherine Knollys: The Unacknowledged Daughter of King Henry VIII, The Tudor Brandons, Catherine of Braganza, Margaret Tudor,… Read on

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Book Review: ‘Killing Beauties’ by Pete Langman

KILLING BEAUTIES is a gripping historical fiction novel set during the Protectorate of the 1650s and focuses on the underworld of espionage through the actions of the main character, Susan Hyde. Susan, sister to Edward Hyde (he who is best known for being the powerful advisor to Charles II and for his History of the Rebellion) is a… Read on

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Book Review: ‘Entertaining Mr Pepys’ by Deborah Swift

Entertaining Mr Pepys is the third and final chapter of Deborah Swift’s trilogy on that most famous naval administrator/diarist of the late seventeenth century: Samuel Pepys. That said, it can be read as a standalone work – although I read the first book in the series, I wasn’t able to read the second one, but that did not… Read on

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Book Review: “The Royal Art of Poison” by Eleanor Herman

Eleanor Herman, who earlier this year posted a guest post here on The Seventeenth Century Lady (“A Glorious Poison: The Deadly Toxins of Palace Life”), is a popular historian whose past book titles include Sex With Kings and Sex with the Queen. In The Royal Art of Poison: Fatal Cosmetics, Deadly Poisons, and Murder Most Foul, published this… Read on

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Book Review: “The Road to Newgate” by Kate Braithwaite (2018)

What Kate Braithwaite did with the Affair of the Poisons scandal of Louis XIV’s France (Charlatan) she’s done again – this time in the volatile late 1670s England. Nearing the second decade of the Restoration and told first-person through the eyes of several different characters, The Road to Newgate gives us the horrific episode of the Popish Plot (1678-1681) – a fabricated… Read on

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Book Review: “The Time Traveller’s Guide to Restoration Britain” by Ian Mortimer

When one considers that Dr Ian Mortimer is one of the best-known medieval historians in the world, it is perhaps natural to be slightly dubious of a work about the Restoration by a person who specialises in the medieval period. Wonderfully, this book was fantastic and any reservations I may have had melted away quite quickly. I’m a bit late… Read on

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Book Review: The Illumination of Ursula Flight by Anna-Marie Crowhurst

The Illumination of Ursula Flight is a largely lighthearted coming-of-age historical novel set in 1670s/1680s England and centres on the life (from birth to adulthood) of Ursula Flight. The book begins with a style often used by novels of the 17th century and made me immediately think of Daniel Defoe’s works. This tale is told in the first person… Read on

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Book Review: “The Real Guy Fawkes” by Nick Holland

After having read Antonia Fraser’s great book on the Gunpowder Plot, I wanted to read a biography of Guy Fawkes. Unfortunately, I waded through several of those cheap and inaccurate (and, therefore, largely ultimately worthless) Kindle biographies of Guy Fawkes, and was left rather annoyed. Happily, I came across Nick Holland’s book on NetGalley, which I only recently… Read on

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Book Review: “Maids, Wives, Widows” by Sara Read

Maids, Wives, Widows: Exploring Early Modern Women’s Lives, 1540-1740 by Sara Read is a book I’d been wanting to read since it was originally published in 2015 by Pen & Sword. I became acquainted with Dr Read through Twitter, and she subsequently has contributed two popular articles here on The Seventeenth Century Lady. In her book, which is… Read on

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