What's it all about...
Browsing antiques shops in Wiltshire, Alison Bannister stumbles across a delicate old portrait – supposedly of Anne Boleyn. Except Alison knows better… The woman is Mary Seymour, the daughter of Katherine Parr who was taken to Wolf Hall in 1557 as an unwanted orphan and presumed dead after going missing as a child.
The painting is more than just a beautiful object from Alison’s past – it holds the key to her future, unlocking the mystery surrounding Mary’s disappearance, and the enigma of Alison’s son.
But Alison’s quest soon takes a dark and foreboding turn, as a meeting place called the Phantom Tree harbours secrets in its shadows…
What did I think about it...
It's been a while since a good time slip novel caught my imagination and I am delighted that this latest novel by Nicola Cornick really grabbed my attention from the start. I love travelling back in time and in the hands of an accomplished author it should be rather like stepping aboard a time travel machine. What's so refreshing about this book is that the author has flipped the idea on its head by having a protagonist from the past end up in the future which somehow takes the idea of time slip to a whole different level. The history feels authentic as does the story which surrounds the mystery, and moving seamlessly, as it does, between past and present it is very easy to get caught up in the story of Alison Bannister and Mary Seymour.
The Phantom Tree gets right into the heart of a Tudor mystery and gives us a possible explanation for the alleged disappearance of Mary Seymour. What I love so much about clever historical fiction is that whilst it brings history alive in special way it also allows a talented author to put their own individual slant on what might have happened. Of course I know that time travel doesn’t exist but in the hands of a gifted writer it just shows that nothing is impossible to achieve.
Time slip novels are notoriously difficult to pull off successfully, but when they are done well they are a joy to read and The Phantom Tree certainly gets it right on every level. The author has the balance exactly right with neither one time element seeking to overshadow the other. I was equally comfortable reading about Alison Bannister in the present and then slipping back through time to read Mary Seymour’s story in the past and as both women are feisty protagonists they are equally deserving of the reader’s attention.
There is much to enjoy in this story which will appeal to all lovers of historical time slip novels. Nicola Cornick is fast becoming one of my favourite authors and I can’t wait to see what she come up with next.
Best Read with .. A tankard of small beer and a venison pasty, rich and succulent
More about the author can be found on her website by clicking here
International bestselling author Nicola Cornick writes romantic historical mysteries and witty and passionate Regency romance. She studied History at London and Oxford and was awarded a distinction for her dissertation on historical heroes. It was a tough study but someone had to do it. Nicola has a “double life” as a writer and guide at the stunning 17th century hunting lodge, Ashdown House.
Follow on Twitter @NicolaCornick
The Phantom Tree was my community Library read