Author: Elizabeth St. John
Publisher: self published
Type of book: history, England, Frances Howard, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, war, El Dorado, 1603-1630, slaves, Walter Raleigh, destruction, greed, corruption, tranquility, family, relationships, rivalry
Year it was published: 2015
Orphaned Lucy St.John, described as "the most beautiful of all," defies English society by carving her own path through the decadent Stuart court. In 1609, the early days of the rule of James I are a time of glittering pageantry and cutthroat ambition, when the most dangerous thing one can do is fall in love . . . or make an enemy of Frances Howard, the reigning court beauty. Lucy catches the eye of the Earl of Suffolk, but her envious sister Barbara is determined to ruin her happiness. Exiling herself from the court, Lucy has to find her own path through life, becoming mistress of the Tower of London. Riding the coattails of the king's favorite, the Duke of Buckingham, the fortunes of the St.Johns rise to dizzying heights. But with great wealth comes betrayal, leaving Lucy to fight for her survival-and her honor-in a world of deceit and debauchery. Elizabeth St.John tells this dramatic story of love, betrayal, family bonds and loyalty through the eyes of her ancestor Lucy and her family's surviving diaries, letters and court papers.
Main characters include Lucy St. John, the youngest child in her family who desires a life of peace and tranquility. She is without malice and refuses to play court games or courtly love. She is considered the most beautiful of her sisters and is a Calvinist. There is also Barbara, Lucy's older sister who is extremely manipulative, two-faced and isn't above using family to get what she desires or to get ahead even. Earl of Suffolk is Lucy's paramour and despite his words cannot break away from the court. Frances Howard becomes a favorite but at the same time doesn't realize that once a star rises it has to fall. George Villiers becomes Duke of Buckhingham and is best described as manipulative, possibly homosexual, and often thinks more of himself than anyone else. Anne is Lucy's best friend and is her brother's wife. She serves as a mediator between Lucy and her brother John and often backs Lucy up in her endeavors.
Corruption and greed ultimately lead to one result
The story is in first person narrative from Lucy's point of view. I honestly loved reading the story because she starts out in beginning of King James I reign, of when Queen Elizabeth passed away, and from then on we watch through Lucy's eyes as England begins to head for destruction through greed and corruption. Yet also, through Lucy, the reader learns what is going on in the court and how that is leading to the ultimate result.
While I was reading this story, I couldn't help but think about my favorite historical fiction; the sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie which is about a family of sisters becoming involved with King Louis XV as well as the intrigues and destruction of relationships that they entailed. There is one sister in Sisters of Versailles that did not become involved with the court or the intrigues, Hortense, and I couldn't help but compare Lucy St. John with Hortense, especially how different her life is from that of her sisters. I also was surprised by the fact that corruption, no matter what century it happened, is the same. This book has helped me understand what happened in England during 17th century and why British Civil War has occurred. I really hope the author writes more stories about her ancestors in England because I'm really looking forward to reading them.
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4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)