Book of the month for September
The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory
"No one cares that I refuse,
nobody hears that I will not take the throne... Nothing will save me."
LADY JANE GREY, THE NINE-DAY QUEEN
Jane Grey was Queen of England for nine days. Using her position as cousin to the deceased king, her father and his conspirators put her on the throne ahead of the king's half-sister Mary, who quickly mustered an army, claimed her crown and locked Jane in the Tower. When Jane refused to betray her Protestant faith, Mary sent her to the executioner's block. There Jane turned her father's greedy, failed grab for power into her own brave and tragic martyrdom. 'Learn you to die ' is the advice that Jane gives in a letter to her younger sister Katherine, who has no intention of dying. She intends to enjoy her beauty and her youth and find love. But her lineage makes her a threat to the insecure and infertile Queen Mary and, when Mary dies, to her sister Queen Elizabeth, who will never allow Katherine to marry and produce a potential royal heir before she does. So when Katherine's secret marriage is revealed by her pregnancy, she too must go to the Tower. 'Farewell, my sister,' writes Katherine to the youngest Grey sister, Mary. A beautiful dwarf, disregarded by the court, Mary finds it easy to keep secrets, especially her own, while avoiding Elizabeth's suspicious glare. After watching her sisters defy the queen, Mary is aware of her own perilous position as a possible heir to the throne. But she is determined to command her own destiny and be the last Tudor to risk her life in matching wits with her ruthless and unforgiving cousin Elizabeth.
Book of the Month for September Read-Alikes
Curl up with these great historical reads this September.
Munich by Robert Harris
September 1938. Hitler is determined to start a war. Chamberlain is desperate to preserve the peace. The issue is to be decided in a city that will forever afterwards be notorious for what takes place there. Munich. As Chamberlain's plane judders over the Channel and the Führer's train steams relentlessly south from Berlin, two young men travel with secrets of their own. Hugh Legat is one of Chamberlain's private secretaries; Paul Hartmann a German diplomat and member of the anti-Hitler resistance. Great friends at Oxford before Hitler came to power, they haven't seen one another since they were last in Munich six years earlier. Now, as the future of Europe hangs in the balance, their paths are destined to cross again. When the stakes are this high, who are you willing to betray? Your friends, your family, your country or your conscience?
A Column of Fire by Ken Follett
The saga that has enthralled the millions of readers of The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End now continues with Ken Follett's magnificent, gripping new story.
Young Will Willard is coming home to Kingsbridge at Christmas as A Column of Fire opens. The year 1558 will turn Will's life upside-down and change Europe for ever. When Elizabeth Tudor becomes queen, all of Europe turns against England. Elizabeth clings precariously to her throne and her principles, protected by a small, dedicated group of resourceful spies and courageous secret agents. The real enemies, then as now, are not the rival religions. The true battle pitches those who believe in tolerance and compromise against the tyrants who would impose their ideas on everyone else - no matter what the cost.
Sugar Money by Jane Harris
Martinique, 1765, and brothers Emile and Lucien are charged by their French master, Father Cleophas, with a mission. They must return to Grenada, the island they once called home, and smuggle back the 42 slaves claimed by English invaders at the hospital plantation in Fort Royal. While Lucien, barely in his teens, sees the trip as a great adventure, the older and worldlier Emile has no illusions about the dangers they will face. But with no choice other than to obey Cleophas - and sensing the possibility, however remote, of finding his first love Celeste - he sets out with his brother on this 'reckless venture'.
Persephone by Julian Stockwin
November 1807. Captain Sir Thomas Kydd must sail to Lisbon to aid the Portuguese Royal Family's evacuation in the face of Napoleon's ruthless advance through Iberia. In the chaos of the threatened city an old passion is reawakened when he meets Persephone Lockwood, a beautiful and determined admiral's daughter from his past. But the Royal Family's destination is Brazil, Perspehone's England, and it seems Kydd's chance has gone again. Only later he discovers Persephone has another suitor - and that, if he wants to win her hand, he must enter the highest echelons of London society. Mixing with aristocracy and royalty brings other responsibilities. The Prince of Wales asks him to take temporary command of the Royal Yacht. Sailing to Yarmouth, Kydd realises they are being stalked by French privateers.
The Autumn Throne by Elizabeth Chadwick
Eleanor of Aquitaine's powerful story is brought to a triumphant and beautiful close by much-loved author Elizabeth Chadwick in the trilogy that began with The Summer Queen and continued in The Winter Crown. A loving mother. A betrayed wife. A queen beyond compare. Imprisoned by her husband, King Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of England, refuses to let her powerful husband bully her into submission, even as he forces her away from her children and her birthright. Freed only by Henry's death, Eleanor becomes dowager Queen of England. But the competition for land and power that Henry stirred up among his sons has intensified to a dangerous rivalry. Eleanor will need every ounce of courage and fortitude as she crosses the Alps in winter to bring Richard his bride, and travels medieval Europe to ransom her beloved son. But even her indomitable spirit will be tested to its limits as she attempts to keep the peace between her warring sons, and find a place in the centres of power for her daughters.