As you may have seen from previous blog posts, I have read many historical novels set in the Tudor era, in particular about the 'people's Queen' Elizabeth I. This novel focuses on the rumour that Elizabeth had a child before she became Queen and a series of events means that the Queen and her daughter's fates are linked together.
The usual cast of Eizabeth's court are featured including Robert Dudley, Lettice Knolleys and Mary Gray, but the two main characters - Elinor (Nell) de Lacey and Sir Gabriel Wyatt are fictional.
Nell comes across Elizabeth as a young child, when she accidentally comes across the princess while she is imprisoned in the Tower of London. She boldly offers the 'pretty princess' a key to escape, not realising how dangerous this could be to her whole family. Elizabeth admires the young girl's courage and when she becomes Queen, invites Nell to court. Nell defies her mother's wishes and moves to London, but she soon realises that her mother's tales of lies, deceit and danger are all true and she has to learn how to survive, not knowing who to trust along the way.
Robert Dudley's closest friend Sir Gabriel Wyatt shows a particular interest in Nell and gradually, rumours and revelations reveal the 'truth' about Nell's parentage and her life is in danger...
I loved the characters of Nell and Gabriel (who I had a bit of a book crush on!) and found parts of the book really exciting and thrilling to read as the Court whispers about secrets and lies. However I did find the ending a little weak and odd compared to the rest of the book.
I really like Ella March Chase's style of writing and her research into Tudor history is obviously very thorough and I was surprised to learn that she is American. I will definately be reading more of her work.