Robert Parry’s THE ARROW CHEST is set in Victorian London, and concerns a struggling artist called Amos Roselli (based on Dante Gabriel Rossetti?), his muse Daphne, Daphne’s boorish husband and the young maid Beth who “does” for Amos.
When Amos is called to the Tower of London to sketch some bones found in an arrow chest that are believed to belong to Queen Anne Boleyn, mysterious things start to happen that he can’t explain. Before long, Lord Bowlend (Daphne’s husband) asks Amos to come to his estate to do a portrait of him. For those of you familiar with the tragic story of Anne Boleyn, it soon becomes apparent that a similar tragedy is unravelling in the lives of Lord and Lady Bowlend, who are 19th-century stand-ins for Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.
I loved this novel and thought it was beautifully written, especially the descriptions of the Isle of Wight. Although some overwriting was apparent, it was clear that this was a better novel from a technical point of view, than the VIRGIN AND THE CRAB. But what a pity to turn Lord Bowlend/Henry VIII and his friend Tommy Newman/Thomas Cromwell into caricatured monsters. Granted, the historical figures have a great deal to answer for. But the novel would have been much more satisfying had the bad guys not been so obviously obnoxious. Four stars.