The beautiful cover of this book caught my eye first, and when I found out it was about Arbella Stuart I could not resist downloading it. I adore reading historical novels and I knew a bit about Arbella from watching a documentary about her a few years back.
Arbella was a fascinating person, the great-granddaughter of Margaret Tudor (who was sister to King Henry VIII), and so therefore a possible heir to Queen Elizabeth I. As such, Arbella was used as a pawn by those who wanted power, including her own family, when she just wanted to read, write, and ride her horse.
The story is told from two points of view: Arbella's, as she looks back on her life, and a woman called Ami, who was friends with her at Court. It dawned on me about halfway through the book that Ami might also be a real life historical figure, and after a bit of Googling I discovered she was Aemilia Lanyer, a well-known poet.
Although Ami's life was interesting, I would have rather read more about Arbella! I loved the descriptions of Arbella's childhood and her relationship with her formidable grandmother, Bess of Hardwick, and how she grew up at Hardwick Hall, which was famous for being 'more glass than wall'. I felt so sorry for Arbella as she longed for a normal life as a wife and mother, away from all the political intrigue.
I could have done with a family tree at the front of the book, or perhaps a list of characters. Although I thought I knew a fair bit about history, I did become confused as to who was who. Characters were introduced as though I should know who they were and I spent a lot of time on Google, resulting in a few spoilers!
But the story was very well written and I did enjoy reading it. It would probably appeal to fans of Philippa Gregory and anyone who enjoys Tudor/Stuart history mixed in with a bit of fiction.
Thank you to Elizabeth Fremantle, Michael Joseph and Netgalley for my copy of this book, which I received in exchange for an honest review.