Get thee to an editor!!
Seriously. While I understand the copy I have is an ARC and thus an uncorrected proof what I read in this book goes way beyond the pale. Twice I found a duplicated sentence, one right after the other. Run-on sentences with way too many commas, colons and semi-colons, along with short disjointed sentences that went nowhere – picture Snoopy writing his classic “it was a dark and stormy night”. Frankly I felt I was always on the outside looking in and that’s the last place I want to be when reading a book.
Jane and Isabel are daughters of a wealthy London merchant who has arranged for both their marriages. Jane to Will Shore where she subsequently becomes the infamous Jane Shore, mistress to Edward IV, and Isabel to the lazy son of silk merchant Alice Claver. Isabel’s husband dies shortly after the marriage leaving a mountain of debt and not wanting to return to her father’s household and another marriage she signs on as apprentice to her mother-in-law and begins to learn the silk trade. Isabel’s path eventually crosses again with a dark man she met on her wedding day and finds the attraction is still there – although there is much more to this man than she realizes (I won’t be a spoiler but that twist is as plain as the nose on your face). As Isabel’s fortunes grow, she and her mother-in-law plan to bring the secrets of Italian silk weaving to London and corner their own market, and her skills at embroidery bring her into contact with the Princess Elizabeth, and a most implausible friendship is born. There is actually a scene where Elizabeth makes a monkey face in Isabel’s presence in disrespect to her mother. Perhaps well bred young princesses might have done that behind their mother’s back, but with their dressmakers?
While the main characters aren’t quite as black and white in their goodness and/or badness as some recent authors have chosen to write this period – they don’t exactly come across as terribly interesting either. Jane Shore, who has such a fascinating history of her own, was vapid and quite dull – when she was in the story at all – as a matter of fact Edward IV came across that way as well. Isabel was over the top in her 21C female independence (except when it came to Dickon, then she was dumber than a bucket of rocks). Of course the Woodvilles were all evil and wicked, but we didn’t even get the pleasure of being shown how bad they were, we were just told that they were bad and everyone hated them. I’m not even touching what she did with Richard III, but I think the author read up a bit on Shakespeare before writing the book.
As for the historical setting, I’m not that well read on this period but things just didn’t ring true. Calling the King and Queen “Your Majesty” (I believe that started with the Tudors), Richard traveling alone with no attendants whatsoever (where was Francis Lovell, let alone a squire or two?) to name two. And ROFL for the “coronation meetings” they were all having. As for the silk trade and how well it’s portrayed? Again I haven’t a clue but since the author didn’t provide any notes to back up her story lines, I’m taking that with a grain of salt as well.
If she’d just stuck with Isabel and Jane’s stories and the silk trade in London, made the two sisters half way interesting and kept the Royal family and it’s intrigues out of it she might have had something here. As it is now, I can only recommend it as a sedative to help you to sleep at night. If you’re set on reading this, I strongly urge you to get it from the library first and then buy it if you love it. A very very generous two stars.