This is one of Philippa Gregory’s most interesting novels. Gregory has cleverly given the story of the power struggle between two English princesses – Mary Tudor and her half-sister Elizabeth – an interesting twist by cleverly inserting the fictional Hannah Green.
Told from the point of view of Hannah Green – a young Jewish girl who flees to England from Spain to avoid the inquisition – it tells a story of an innocent girl caught up in the ugly and bloody politics of 1550s England. This was not a good time to be alive. Four changes of monarch in this decade ensured that cartloads of men and women were burned at stake for their beliefs as the pendulum swung from protestant to catholic to protestant. Hannah is in particular danger because she is Jewish and Philippa Gregory paints a compelling a poignant portrait of Jews in England during this time, who were forced to hide their Sabbath candles under a pitchers, and forced to spend their Sundays in church, their eyes never wavering from the Eucharist lest some spy report them for being impious.
This novel is a page-turner that conveys brilliantly the perils living in a theocracy, especially a changing one.
–Cynthia Haggard writes short stories, novels and poetry. During the day, she is a medical writer and owns her own business. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. For more about her medical writing services, go to clarifyingconcepts. (c) 2009. All rights reserved.