On Hist Fic Saturday
Let's go back to ....early seventeenth Century, London
4 February 2021
My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
Frances Howard has beauty and a powerful family – and is the most unhappy creature in the world.
Anne Turner has wit and talent – but no stage on which to display them. Little stands between her and the abyss of destitution.
When these two very different women meet in the strangest of circumstances, a powerful friendship is sparked. Frankie sweeps Anne into a world of splendour that exceeds all she imagined: a Court whose foreign king is a stranger to his own subjects; where ancient families fight for power, and where the sovereign’s favourite may rise and rise – so long as he remains in favour.
With the marriage of their talents, Anne and Frankie enter this extravagant, savage hunting ground, seeking a little happiness for themselves. But as they gain notice, they also gain enemies; what began as a search for love and safety leads to desperate acts that could cost them everything.
The powerful friendship between Mrs Anne Turner and Lady Frances Howard has been the subject of much historical interest especially as it resulted in a deeply controversial murder trial in 1615. Their seven year association which begins because of the vagaries of circumstance is very much based on a true story.
During the early part of the seventeenth century the Jacobean court of James I was a hot bed of political and personal rivalries and for Frances Howard and Anne Turner life is about to get very complicated. When Anne and Frances Howard first meet at court, Frances is unhappily married to Robert Deveraux, 3rd Earl of Essex. That the Earl and Countess loathe each other is evident in the despicable way that Deveraux misuses and abuses his young wife. Anne Turner, wife of an eminent court doctor, becomes something of a confidante, and companion, to the young Countess of Essex, and is privy to her whims and darkest desires.
The story gets off to something of a slow start as we get to know the subtle nuances of the plot which the author brings to life with a strong sense of historical authenticity and a fine eye for all those little details which bring the teeming city of Jacobean London to life in all its tempestuous glory. Intrigue, gossip, and scandal are all deeply ingrained in court life and it’s soon obvious that the court of James I is not a comfortable place to dwell and as the plot thickens, so the overall pace of the story starts to pick up and gains momentum.
Well researched, with the strong authentic voices of Frances Howard and Anne Turner firmly in place, A Net for Small Fishes brings to vivid life the details of the ‘Overbury Scandal’ which highlighted all that was rotten in the first Jacobean court.
A Net for Small Fishes is published on the 4th February in ebook and hardback and is available from all good book retailers.
Twitter @BloomsburyBooks #ANetForSmallFishes
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