The king will decide who will live and who will die; he has the power of God now.
1539. Henry VIII must take his fourth wife and the dangerous prize is won by Anne of Cleves. A German princess by birth, Anne is to be Henry’s pawn in the Protestant alliance against Rome, but the marriage falters from the start. Henry finds nothing to admire in his new queen, setting himself against his advisors and nobles to pay court to young Katherine Howard.
The new queen begins to sense a trap closing around her. And Jane Boleyn, summoned to the inner circle once more by her uncle the Duke of Norfolk, finds a fractious court haunted by the Boleyn legacy of death and deceit.
Nothing is certain in a kingdom ruled by an increasingly tyrannical king.
These three stories were originally published under the titles Princess Florizella, Princess Florizella and the Wolves and Princess Florizella and the Giant.
They were originally dedicated to her daughter but have been reimagined in this edition which she has dedicated to her grandchildren.
“Princess Florizella was friends with some of the princesses who had studied the Princess Rules, and behaved just as the Rules said they should. Florizella thought their hair was lovely: so golden and so very long. And their clothes were nice: so richly embroidered. And their shoes were delightful: so tiny and handmade in silk. But their days bored her to death...”
Instead, Princess Florizella rides her horse, Jellybean, all over the kingdom, having adventures of her own...
Jane Seymour is a shy, dutiful fifteen-year-old when her eldest brother, Edward, brings his bride home to Wolf Hall. Katherine Filliol is the perfect match for Edward, as well as being a breath of fresh air for the Seymour family, and Jane is captivated by the older girl. Over the course of a long, hot country summer, the two become close friends and allies, while Edward is busy building alliances at court and advancing his career.
However, only two years later, the family is torn apart by a dreadful allegation made by Edward against his wife. The repercussions for all the Seymours are incalculable, not least for Katherine herself. When Jane is sent away, to serve Katharine of Aragon, she is forced to witness another wife being put aside, with terrible consequences. Changed forever by what happened to Katherine Filliol, Jane comes to understand that in a world where power is held entirely by men, there is a way in which she can still hold true to herself.
Jasper Tudor, son of Queen Catherine and her second husband, Owen Tudor, has grown up far from the intrigue of the royal court. But after he and his brother Edmund are summoned to London, their half-brother, King Henry VI, takes a keen interest in their future.
Bestowing Earldoms on them both, Henry also gives them the wardship of the young heiress Margaret Beaufort. Although she is still a child, Jasper becomes devoted to her and is devastated when Henry arranges her betrothal to Edmund.
He seeks solace in his estates and in the arms of Jane Hywel, a young Welsh woman who offers him something more meaningful than a dynastic marriage. But passion turns to jeopardy for them both as the Wars of the Roses wreak havoc on the realm. Loyal brother to a fragile king and his domineering queen, Marguerite of Anjou, Jasper must draw on all his guile and courage to preserve their throne − and the Tudor destiny...
I was born a princess, destined to be queen, and I know my duty.
1491. Henry VII’s eldest son Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales, has been betrothed since childhood to the Spanish princess Katherine of Aragon. Their marriage will cement the alliance Henry Tudor craves to secure his country.
But when Arthur’s sudden death leaves an 11-year-old boy heir to the kingdom, Henry Tudor must choose whether to send Katherine back to Spain, or to marry her himself. Katherine has no son from her brief marriage to secure her future; her substantial dowry and his powerful contract are at stake.
Henry has reckoned without the determination of a young woman set on fulfilling her own destiny to be a queen – and the ambition of Prince Harry, the future Henry VIII.
Everyone knows the story of Anne Boleyn. Henry VIII divorced his longstanding, long-suffering, older, Spanish wife for a young, black-eyed English beauty, and, in doing so, severed England from Rome and indeed from the rest of the western world. Then, when Henry had what he wanted, he managed a mere three years of marriage before beheading his wife for alleged adultery with several men, among them his own best friend and her own brother.
This is the context for Suzannah Dunn's wonderful new novel, which is about – and told by – two women: Anne Boleyn, king's mistress and fated queen; and Lucy Cornwallis, the king's confectioner, an employee of the very highest status, who made the centrepiece of each of the feasts to mark the important occasions in Anne's ascent. There's another link between them, though: the lovely Mark Smeaton, wunderkind musician, the innocent on whom, ultimately, Anne's downfall hinged...
Suzannah Dunn has all the equipment needed for literary-commercial success: wit, a mastery of dialogue, brilliant characterization, lack of pretence, and good humour. The Queen of Subtleties adds to that mix a wonderfully balanced, strong story; Dunn has plumped for a fascinating retelling of one of the most often-told, most compelling stories of our islands' history. In doing so, she's turning from contemporary stories to historical fiction. The result is sensational.
They can fear me, and they can hate me. They can even deny me. But they cannot kill me.
1568. The Virgin Queen Elizabeth I has ruled England for ten years, but refuses to name a successor, despite the rival claims that threaten her kingdom.
Bess of Hardwick, the new Countess of Shrewsbury, has secured her future with her fourth marriage to George Talbot. Ambitious and shrewd, Bess anticipates royal favour when she and the Earl are asked to give sanctuary to the fugitive Mary Queen of Scots.
But the Scottish queen rails against house arrest in a desolate castle and plots to regain her throne. The castle becomes the epicentre of intrigue against Elizabeth, the Earl blinded by admiration for the other queen. Even Bess’s own loyalty is thrown into question. If Elizabeth's spymaster William Cecil links the Talbots to the growing conspiracy to free Mary, they will all face the Tower...